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Report: Orlando Thomas loses battle with ALS

According to the Vikings’ official web site, former Minnesota safety Orlando Thomas, who in the mid-1990s was regarded as one of the best young safeties in the NFL, died Wednesday from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

He was 37.

Thomas began exhibiting symptoms in 2004, and his condition was revealed publicly in 2007.

Thomas, a second-round pick in 1995, spent seven seasons with the Vikings.  He was a member of the 1998 team that went 15-1 and lost in overtime of the NFC Championship. 

“He was always the guy joking around in the locker room, he had a big
laugh,” said tight end Jim Kleinsasser, the only current member of the team who played with Thomas.  “There wasn’t a guy on the team that didn’t
love him and there wasn’t a guy on the team that he didn’t love.  O.T.
had a big heart and he was a great character to have on the team. . . .

“Every day is a holiday,” Kleinsasser said. “Orlando always used to say
that. It was his way of saying how blessed we were to do what we were
doing.  He felt like it was a true honor to play for the Vikings and be
a member of the NFL.”

In seven seasons, Thomas started 87 regular-season games and four playoff games.

UPDATE:  Former Vikings and Saints receiver Jake Reed contends that the report of Thomas’ death is not accurate.  Adam Schefter of ESPN has posted a similar message on Twitter.

SECOND UPDATE:  The Vikings have retracted the report, and issued an apology.

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37 Responses to “Report: Orlando Thomas loses battle with ALS”
  1. thebootguy says: Oct 28, 2009 6:46 PM

    What a shame! He was way to young! R.I.P. Orlando Thomas!!!! Best to his family and friends!

  2. JustinG says: Oct 28, 2009 6:46 PM


  3. BillsFan27 says: Oct 28, 2009 6:47 PM

    He was fun to watch, too – he’s definitely one of the reasons that team was 15-1.

  4. ohandsixteenforever says: Oct 28, 2009 6:51 PM

    The good really do seem to die young. It’s hardly ever the people that nobody likes that die young it’s always the people that bring smiles to other people’s faces.

  5. crankshaft420 says: Oct 28, 2009 6:53 PM

    I just sent an email to you about this story (along with every other Viking’s fan, I’m sure). Thank you for posting this. Orlando Thomas was my favorite Viking’s defender growing up. He was an incredible guy, always positive and selfless, just like Korey Stringer. It sucks that this happens to the best of men, but hopefully it raises awareness, not only about ALS, but about the little miracles that happen daily.

  6. rcunningham says: Oct 28, 2009 6:55 PM

    RIP Orlando, I still remember your monster 95 season

  7. Merton Hanks says: Oct 28, 2009 6:56 PM

    Rest in peace. Story breaks my heart.

  8. jersey73 says: Oct 28, 2009 6:57 PM

    R.I.P. Way too young for someone to pass away.

  9. BoltFan17 says: Oct 28, 2009 7:04 PM

    Sad news indeed. Although Im not a Vikes fan Orlando Thomas and Robert Griffith were two of my faves. My prayers and with his friends and family. O.T. forever.

  10. bigmetaldude says: Oct 28, 2009 7:05 PM

    R.I.P. Mr. Thomas. You served us Vikings well.

  11. SKDe03 says: Oct 28, 2009 7:05 PM

    Condolences to O.T’s family. I remember watching this guy play and he brought it every time he stepped on the field and was a pleasure to watch.

  12. leatherneck says: Oct 28, 2009 7:11 PM

    Orlando Thomas, #42, RIP. All my condolences to OT’s friends and family.

  13. piccolo says: Oct 28, 2009 7:15 PM

    Our thoughts go out to Mr. Thomas’ family 😦

  14. Stoogie says: Oct 28, 2009 7:15 PM

    37 is way too young to die, especially from ALS. My condolences to his family.

  15. The Jimmy says: Oct 28, 2009 7:15 PM

    Way too soon for anyone to go. God Bless.

  16. se18a29 says: Oct 28, 2009 7:24 PM

    RIP – 37 is way to young. 😦

  17. nanner12wojo says: Oct 28, 2009 7:26 PM

    From everything i’ve read about Orlando he will be missed.
    I remember him from his playing days as a guy that just crushed wide receivers for coming across the middle.
    His life was unfairly cut way too short.

  18. spyboots says: Oct 28, 2009 7:27 PM

    Very sad. RIP.

  19. purpleinwi says: Oct 28, 2009 7:30 PM

    You know OT wasn’t a superstar, and he didn’t have a long career, but most Vikes fans will always remember who he was. A hard hitting, tough as nails safety who was a part of one of the greatest Viking teams in team history.
    I’m taking this unexpectedly hard. I guess it maybe the fact that I’m 35, OT was 37. It’s a stark reminder to how precious life is and how much time we waste being unhappy in it. I didn’t know OT outside of what we saw on Sundays, but all indications are that he was a man who knew how lucky he was.
    “Every day is a holiday,” what a great, and simple statement it is. It doesn’t matter whether you play football or bag groceries, we should all live like that, because no one is guarenteed tomorrow. I know things suck for a lot of people right now, you can see it in the anger that spills forth on this board over the most mundane things. Whether it’s football or politics we’re all angry about something.
    It’s got to stop, because in the end, what does it really matter. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong in being passionate, hell I love football, I’ll always love it, and I’ll always get worked up about it, but it always has to be put into perspective and moments like this remind me why.
    Orlando Thomas, you didn’t know me, and outside of Sunday, I didn’t know you. You leave this life at an awfully early age, and I am certain you loss leaves a huge void for many, but know that for guys like me, your passing is a stark reminder about what is really important in life.
    God bless brother Orlando, and may you forever rest in peace.

  20. Bob Nelson is a Tool says: Oct 28, 2009 7:37 PM

    R.I.P. OT….

  21. JSS84 says: Oct 28, 2009 7:42 PM

    RIP Orlando.

  22. PervyHarvin says: Oct 28, 2009 7:45 PM

    RIP Orlando. Hope that class and respect,which is often lacking in these threads(me included) is found in light of a young mans death.Sad indeed.

  23. Franchise says: Oct 28, 2009 7:49 PM

    One of the absolute best guys to play the game.
    I’ve been going to Vikings camp for 16 years, and he was one of the most outgoing, witty guys, joking around with players and fans all the time.
    He will be missed.

  24. purplescar says: Oct 28, 2009 7:50 PM

    OT was one of my favorites … still have his jersey. Damn.

  25. Bones22 says: Oct 28, 2009 7:52 PM

    What a great player and it is sad to see someone so young diagnosed with such a horrible disease. I hope he is in a better place now. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

  26. Bones22 says: Oct 28, 2009 7:54 PM

    What a great player and it is sad to hear that such a young person having this horrible disease. I hope he is in a better place now. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

  27. honest abe says: Oct 28, 2009 7:56 PM

  28. DailyNorseman says: Oct 28, 2009 8:03 PM

    Bob_Nelson, JimmySmith and the rest of the Packer crew along with jokes in 3. . .
    2. . .
    1. . .

  29. HRVA DBAG says: Oct 28, 2009 8:07 PM

    This is sad news. It is rare to see that disease hit anyone so young. ALS is scary to think about.

  30. Asswipe Johnson (Pronounced Az-Wee-Pay) says: Oct 28, 2009 8:12 PM

    RIP Orlando Thomas. What a shame.
    Best wishes to his family in dealing with these very difficult times.

  31. ballhawk1 says: Oct 28, 2009 8:16 PM

    my thoughts and prayers go out to his family…

  32. leatherneck says: Oct 28, 2009 8:17 PM

    Jake Reed says he is still alive.
    I hope this is true.

  33. Twiz says: Oct 28, 2009 8:39 PM

    I think Lord Florio needs to start double checking his sources…..Utter nonsense to report something like this if it is not true!

  34. chugs says: Oct 28, 2009 8:52 PM

    not dead.

  35. PervyHarvin says: Oct 28, 2009 9:54 PM

    Agent says still is ALIVE! How the hell does this faulty shit happen? It’s not Florio’s fault either, I heard he died on MN KFAN tonight.

  36. Twiz says: Oct 28, 2009 10:27 PM

    Of course it is Lord Florio’s fault, same as it is the fault of whoever broadcast it at KFAN and whoever put it on the Vikings web site.
    No matter who it is, no matter what the subject is, you should NEVER rely on info from another site, no matter what it is without some sort of verification. A simple phone call to Thomas’s agent would have settled all this.

  37. antneejay2 says: Oct 29, 2009 6:28 PM

    He’s been buried right next to Terry Bradshaw.

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