Led Bears in re­ceiv­ing in ’73 sea­son

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY JASON LIESER, STAFF REPORTER jlieser@sun­times.com | @Ja­sonLieser

For­mer Bears wide re­ceiver and tight end Earl Thomas died Satur­day at 71, leav­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion “deeply sad­dened,” it said in a state­ment.

The Bears drafted Thomas out of Hous­ton in the sixth round in 1971, and he played three sea­sons for them. He led the team with 24 catches, 343 yards and four touch­down catches in 1973 af­ter fin­ish­ing close be­hind Ge­orge Farmer in re­ceiv­ing yards the sea­son be­fore.

Thomas played 39 games for the Bears and to­taled 47 catches, 748 yards and seven touch­downs.

They traded him to the St. Louis Car­di­nals just be­fore the 1974 sea­son. He played two years in St. Louis be­fore go­ing to his home­town Hous­ton Oil­ers for his fi­nal sea­son in 1976.

The Her­ald-Ban­ner (Greenville, Texas) wrote in its obit­u­ary that Thomas worked in petroleum and coached youth track and field af­ter re­tir­ing from the NFL.

“He was a re­ally hard worker,” his nephew Spencer Gil­bert told the Her­ald-Ban­ner. “He loved his fam­ily. We all miss him. He was over­all a good guy. He did a lot with track. He was al­ways help­ing kids.”

Thomas’ brothers, Jimmy and Mike, also played in the NFL in the 1970s and ’80s.

SUN-TIMES

WR/TE Earl Thomas was a sixth-round pick of the Bears in 1971.

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