Former Minnesota Vikings safety Orlando Thomas died at the age of 42 from ALS on Sunday night, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.
Thomas, who led the NFL in interceptions as a rookie with the Minnesota Vikings in 1995, revealed he was battling ALS in 2007. Schefter reports that Thomas lost nearly 70 pounds since his playing days due to the disease.
“Nobody’s ever fought a battle like Orlando fought, with so much dignity—I never saw anything like it,” said Mark Bartelstein, Thomas’ agent. “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.”
Thomas was a second-round pick by the Vikings in 1995 out of Louisiana-Lafayette and led the NFL with nine interceptions as a rookie.
In 98 career games, Thomas had 22 interceptions and 1½ sacks and forced six fumbles.
The Vikings released a statement on Monday.
The Vikings are deeply saddened by the loss of Orlando Thomas. 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. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Demetra and their family.
Former teammates Randy Moss and Jake Reed tweeted their condolences on Monday.
#42 Orlando Thomas R I P Viking4life— Randy Moss (@RandyMoss) November 10, 2014