Former Minnesota Vikings safety Orlando Thomas has died at the age of 42. Thomas suffered from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), aka Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Thomas played in the NFL from 1995 to 2001, collecting 22 interceptions — including nine during his rookie season of 1995 in which he led the league. All 98 of his NFL games were played for the Vikings.
Thomas revealed in 2007 that he had ALS.
“Nobody’s ever fought a battle like Orlando fought, with so much dignity — I never saw anything like it,” his agent Mark Bartelstein said Monday morning, via ESPN. “It’s just incredible. He never had a sense of self pity, never felt sorry for himself, he was always worried about everyone else. He was just the most incredible person I’ve ever been around.”
The Minnesota Vikings released the following statement:
“Orlando was an outstanding player for the Vikings for seven years, but more importantly, he represented the franchise and the state of Minnesota with the utmost dignity and class. While his outgoing personality made him a favorite among his teammates, Orlando’s involvement in the community made him a favorite outside of Winter Park.
“Since 2007, Orlando fought this disease with tenacity and optimism. Throughout his difficult battle, he refused to allow ALS to define him, instead putting others’ needs in front of his and focusing on making those around him smile. Orlando will always remain a member of the Minnesota Vikings family.”