Former NFL running back Rodney Thomas (pictured), who played seven seasons for the Houston Oilers, Tennessee Titans, and Atlanta Falcons passed away from undisclosed causes at age 41. He was at the Groveton, Texas, home he had purchased for his mother after signing his first professional contract, according to CBS Sports.
Thomas, who had a stellar playing career when he attended Texas A&M, was drafted by the Oilers in the third round of the 1995 draft. The young gridiron player’s rookie season with his newly signed team was his best: 947 yards and five touchdowns to go with 39 catches for 204 yards and another two scores. Thomas chose to stay with the team when they transitioned to Tennessee, reportedly turning down lucrative offers to join other NFL franchises.
In 1999, Thomas played in Superbowl XXXIV, when the Tennessee Titans lost to the St. Louis Rams.
Thomas’ NFL career ended in 2001 after one season with the Atlanta Falcons.
Married with a 4-year-old child, Thomas was visiting his mother in Groveton when he passed.
Thomas was reportedly an affable and upstanding man who once performed a deed that spoke to his true character: While at his athletic dormitory during his A&M days, a candy bar machine malfunctioned, resulting in bars being dispensed without change being inserted in to the machine. Thomas decided to intervene. Although he came from relatively modest means, he took his own change and reimbursed the machine for all of the candy that had been taken.
According to CBS Sports, former A&M coach R.C. Slocum was shocked upon hearing of Thomas’ untimely death and remembered him fondly via a released statement:
“He was a great football player, but more importantly, he was one of the finest young men that I have ever met. He was so kind, considerate, and unselfish. He impacted all that met him in a positive way. Our prayers go out to his family and friends. Aggieland lost one of its brightest stars today.”
An autopsy is underway to determine Thomas’ cause of death.