Skip to main content

Former Viking Orlando Thomas, 42, dies of ALS


Former Minnesota Vikings safety Orlando Thomas died Sunday night at the age of 42, after a long battle with ALS, ESPN reports.

Thomas, who played for the Vikings from 1995-2001, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease – in 2004.

Five years later, the Pioneer Press wrote about his slow decline; how he'd gone from a hard-hitting hawkish safety to a man who relied on a ventilator and feeding tube to continue living, and was no longer able to utter a word.

ALS, according to the ALS Association, is a "progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord."

Essentially, the brain loses its ability to control the body's muscles, leading to a slow deterioration and eventually death.

In August of this year, The Advertiser (from Lafayette, Louisiana) wrote about Thomas' continued struggle with the disease.

Thomas was 140 pounds at that point – he weighed in at 225 during his playing days, ESPN notes – and unable to move even a muscle, his former Crowley High coach, Lewis Cook, told the paper.

Thomas played for the Vikings from 1995 through 2001, racking up 350 tackles, 22 interceptions and seven passes defended during that time. Nine of those picks came in his rookie year, which led the league that season.

Next Up

Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves' winning streak snapped at five games

The Wolves' bid for their longest winning streak since 2014 came up short.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Teen arrested over fatal shooting of 5-year-old boy in Brooklyn Park

Police say the teen was filming a social media video while handling a gun.

Joe Biden

President Biden coming to Minnesota to promote Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Tuesday's trip follows passage of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.

Kirill Kaprizov

Kaprizov gets into the holiday spirit to rout Jets

Kirill Kaprizov's four points led the Wild to a 7-1 victory.

Kirk Cousins

Coller: Cure to Vikings' disrupted season lies in an explosive passing game

The Vikings go to San Francisco knowing that a win would be a huge boost to their playoff hopes.

unsplash football helmet ground

Judge upholds star QBs suspension for state championship game

Sam Backer, of Chatfield Senior High, won't be allowed to play in Friday's title game.

Screen Shot 2021-11-25 at 7.53.37 AM

Another 5,000 lbs. of goldfish removed from Carver County lakes

It all likely stemmed from people dumping their pets into local waters a few years ago.

Rosaleia Shelton

Appeal to find 19-year-old missing from Bloomington

The teen left her home on Monday afternoon.

hospital, emergency room

Deaths of twin fetuses after woman was shot ruled a double homicide

The woman was shot in the abdomen in mid-September.