The Last Days of 63

In the 42 years since Tom Dempsey kicked the longest field goal in NFL history, his mark has been matched three times but never surpassed. Now the most mysteriously enduring record in sports may finally be ripe to fall. Sixty-three should have fallen years ago, as kickers became more deadeye snipers – more explosive, more accurate and better schooled from a younger age-but the record remains intact, shared by a logjam of four kickers across 42 years of football. It has been protected by circumstance, strategy, worship at the altar of field position and, in no small part, the inherent challenge of guiding a football 63 yards through an opening 10 feet off the ground and 18 feet, 6 inches wide.

Senior writer Tim Layden traveled to the remote village of Soldotna, Alaska where former Denver Broncos kicker Jason Elam now flies his Piper two-seater airplane on hunting excursions. Elam became the second kicker in NFL history to nail a 63-yard field goal 14 years ago this Oct 25, “After my kick I thought [the record] might be gone in a week. I’m still shocked it’s still there.” 


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