News reports that former UL-Lafayette star safety Orlando Thomas, who went on to play six seasons in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings, had died yesterday at the age of 37 are untrue. Thomas' Chicago-based agent Mark Bartelstein has been out correcting the false reports of Thomas' death. He tells the Associated Press: "Somebody put something on a MySpace page or something like that ... and it traveled, but it's not true." Bartelstein added Thomas, who has been battling Lou Gehrig's disease for the past four years, "is "fighting like heck, and he's alive and well. He's the greatest fighter I've ever known. It's a daily, daily battle that he fights, but he's fighting it."
The report that Thomas had passed first surfaced on the Vikings Web site, and was then picked up by The Minneapolis Star Tribune, sporting news Web sites and the Associated Press. The Vikings say they based their report on information obtained from officials with UL Lafayette. A spokesperson at UL's Athletics Media Relations office this morning said he was unaware of the particulars but that "some misinformation got out somehow."
Thomas played for UL Lafayette from 1991-1994 and is one of the players on the Wall of Fame at Cajun Field. He returned to Lafayette in 2004 and was an assistant coach at Comeaux High School. That same year, he was diagnosed with ALS and is now paralyzed above the waist.
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