- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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The 1999 AFC Champions haven’t held a 15th reunion yet. When they do, two members of the team will be missing and mourned.
Steve McNair was murdered on July 4, 2009.
Now we’ve learned that running back Rodney Thomas, Eddie George’s backup, passed away.
Thomas was a third-round pick of the Houston Oilers in 1995 and ran for a team-best 947 yards and five touchdowns on 251 carries. Houston drafted George the next season and Thomas was a quality role-player and second back for five more years with the team. He was regularly the third-leading rusher behind George and McNair. In 1997 and 1998, Thomas averaged over 4 yards a carry.
Thomas played in 14 games for the Atlanta Falcons in 2001 before his career ended.
"I was shocked and saddened by the news of the passing of Rodney Thomas," former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum said in a statement released by the school, via The Tennessean.
"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."
I thought Thomas was a really nice guy, a pro who embraced his role as backup and special teamer.
He was only 41. McNair would be 40.
It’s incredibly sad that they are both gone and not around to enjoy their second acts.
"He was a great teammate," said Frank Wycheck, the former Oilets-Titans tight end who is now the analyst on the team's radio broadcasts. "He was unselfish when Eddie was drafted and he took a back seat. He played special teams. He was a great man. I loved him."