Contrary to Published Reports, Former Viking Orlando Thomas Is Not Dead

Zeke FuhrmanAnalyst IIIOctober 29, 2009

23 Sep 2001: Orlando Thomas #42 of the Minnesota Vikings looks to move at the snap during the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Vikings 17-10.Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel  /Allsport
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The NFL world was shocked Wednesday evening when it was reported that former Minnesota Vikings player Orlando Thomas had passed away at the age of 37 after a four-year battle with ALS.

I'm sure the person who was most shocked was Orlando Thomas himself, as he was watching TV with his family when the report was broadcast on ESPN.

The Vikings reported Thomas' death on their website Wednesday evening after officials from Louisiana-Lafayette, Thomas' alma mater, called to inform them that he had died. The Star Tribune followed with a blog post, citing the Vikings' website as the source of the information.

According to Thomas' agent, Mark Bartelstein, the rumor started on somebody's MySpace page.

"You know how in today's world once rumors start, it spreads like wildfire," Bartelstein commented. "You know how people communicate nowadays. But it's totally false. He's sick, but he's good and and he's fighting the battle he fights every day. He's fighting like heck, and he's alive and well."

Former Vikings WR Jake Reed, who is very close to Thomas and his family, has been frantically Tweeting from his page JakeReed86 all evening, trying to spread the world that Thomas is still here.

"OT (Orlando Thomas) has not died! I just spoke to him! Please reprint!!!!" was sent to the Star Tribune's Twitter page.

"What? ESPN reporting it too??? Wow, he is not dead!" another tweet said.

The Vikings had already planned a pre-game ceremony in honor of Thomas during their November 15th game against Detroit.

Thomas has been battling with ALS, more commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease, since 2004 and is no longer able to speak.

Thomas had 22 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries for the Vikings from 1995-2001.