Orlando Thomas, ex-Minnesota Vikings safety, died on November 10 after a long battle with ALS at the age of 42.
Orlando Thomas was living in his native Crowley, Louisiana, just a half hour west of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette campus where he starred for four seasons before being selected by the Vikings in the second round of the 1995 NFL draft.
He spent all seven of his NFL seasons with the Vikings before retiring after the 2001 campaign at age 29.
Orlando Thomas was a key starter on the Minnesota teams of the late 1990s, including the 1998 group that went 15-1 in the regular season before losing to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game.
He led the league with nine interceptions as a rookie.
“The Vikings are deeply saddened by the loss of Orlando Thomas,” the team said in a statement on November 10.
“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.”
Orlando Thomas is one of several former NFL players affected by ALS, including ex-New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason, ex-Baltimore Ravens linebacker and current front office executive O.J. Brigance, ex-Oakland Raiders fullback Steve Smith and retired journeyman Tim Shaw.