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Former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Mike Thomas Dies at Age 66

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2019

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 4:  Running back Mike Thomas #22 of the Washington Redskins runs upfield against the Buffalo Bills on December 4, 1977 at Rich Stadium in Buffalo, New York.  The Redskins defeated the Bills 10-0.  (Photo by Nate Fine via Getty Images)
Nate Fine/Getty Images

Former Washington and San Diego Chargers running back Mike Thomas died Friday at age 66. 

Scott Allen of the Washington Post reported the news, noting Thomas died in a Houston hospital and had been sick for some time.

"He loved life, he loved people, he loved the Redskins, and he loved reliving the years that he was there, which brought him a lot of joy," Thomas’s wife, Sylvia Wilkerson Thomas, said.

Thomas played four seasons for Washington and two seasons for San Diego from 1975 through 1980.

His best statistical years came in Washington. He was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1975 with 919 rushing yards, 483 receiving yards and seven touchdowns and was a Pro Bowler the following season with a career-best 1,101 rushing yards, 290 receiving yards and nine total touchdowns.

However, Washington traded him following the 1978 campaign.

According to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, Thomas refused to take painkillers after he suffered an ankle injury and was eventually traded following criticism from teammates.

He took on more of a secondary role with the Chargers and then worked in the oil industry following his retirement.

Thomas celebrated his 32nd anniversary with Sylvia in June and was the father of five.