Cajun Great Orlando Thomas Passes Away At The Age Of 42
Former Crowley High, Ragin' Cajun & NFL star safety Orlando Thomas passed away last night at the age of 42 after a long bout with ALS, according to a friend of the Thomas family.
Thomas was a standout at Crowley high, but didn't sign with USL until May of 1991, several months after signing day. He was 17 years old at the time, impressing Cajun coaches with his standout speed in track. He redshirted for the Cajuns, before beginning an impressive 4 years on the football field.
Thomas was an All-American safety for UL (then USL) in the early to mid nineties, leading the team in interceptions in both 1993 (9) and 1994 (6). At the time of his final game at UL, he was the all-time leader in tackles among defensive backs, and second among all players in tackles.
In 1995, Thomas was selected in the second round of the NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings (42nd overall). Wearing number 42, the Crowley native went on to lead the NFL in interceptions (9) his rookie year, earning first-team All-Pro honors.
Thomas retired following the 2001 season, ending his NFL career with 457 tackles, 22 interceptions, and 2 touchdowns.
Thomas' agent confirmed to ESPN's Adam Schefter of his client's passing, offering up kind words of remembrance for the elite safety.
"Nobody's ever fought a battle like Orlando fought, with so much dignity -- I never saw anything like it," Bartelstein said Monday morning.
"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."
During his playing days, the 6'1 Thomas weighed in at 225 pounds. Bartelstein says that Thomas was around 70 pounds before his passing.
In 2007, Thomas revealed that he was suffering from the disease.
All of us at ESPN1420 send out our thoughts, prayers and condolences to Orlando's family and friends.