Former Bears WR/TE Earl Thomas passes away at 71

He was one of the team’s best receiving threats in 1972 and ‘73. He passed away Saturday.

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Earl Thomas played in the NFL from 1971 to ‘76 and was with the Bears for three seasons.

Earl Thomas played in the NFL from 1971 to ‘76 and was with the Bears for three seasons.

Sun-Times

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 him 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 receptions 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.

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