Ex-Viking Orlando Thomas isn't really dead, team retracts statement

Categories: Sports
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Ultimate fail: Announcing someone is dead on an official Web site when it isn't actually true. The Minnesota Vikings had to quickly retract a statement from their Web site last night after falsely reporting the death of former player Orlando Thomas. He has been battling Lou Gehrig's Disease, but his family said he was still alive and kicking, watching basketball with his family at home.

The Associated Press took the information from the Vikings site and did a write-up that made it to Yahoo News. The AP reported that Thomas died early Wednesday at the age of 37. The report said the Vikings had already planned a moment of silence of Thomas during their next home game Nov. 15.

But then the Vikings learned he was still alive and the backtracking began.

Here is the statement from the Vikings taking back their death report a few hours later:
Late this afternoon, vikings.com reported information that was erroneously given to the organization by an individual at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (Orlando Thomas' alma mater) stating that former Vikings player Orlando Thomas had passed away from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The Vikings have now learned that Orlando, who does have ALS, has not passed away. We are thankful that this report was inaccurate and he and his family continue to be in our thoughts.

We regret the inaccurate report and send our sincere apologies to Orlando and his family.
ESPN spoke to his agent, Mark Bartelstein who also confirmed that Thomas was alive.
"Somebody put something on a MySpace page or something like that ... and it traveled, but it's not true," said his Chicago-based agent, Mark Bartelstein.

Bartelstein spoke with Thomas' daughter, who confirmed he was alive. Bartelstein said Thomas was watching basketball with his family Wednesday evening.

"He's fighting like heck, and he's alive and well," Bartelstein said.
Thomas was diagnosed in 2007 and can no longer speak. He lives in Lafayette, La.

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