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Former Bears first-round pick John Thierry dies at 46

John Thierry, whom the Bears drafted No. 11 overall in the 1994 draft, died Friday at age 46.  Marcus Spears, a former Bears teammate, said in a social media post that Thierry had a heart attack.

“When we drafted John we believed we were getting as good a person as football player,” said Dave Wannstedt, the Bears’ coach from 1993-98.  “My thoughts go out to John’s family.”

The former defensive end played five seasons for the Bears and nine overall. He started 28 of the 73 games he appeared in for his original team, and is probably best remembered for recovering three fumbles in a win against the Oilers on Oct. 22, 1995. It remains the Bears’ single-game record.

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Chicago Bears' John Thierry (94) celebrates after recovering a fumble by the Houston Oilers' Michael Roan's in the second quarter Sunday, Oct. 22, 1995 in Chicago. The Bears defeated the Oilers 35-32. (AP Photo/Fred Jewell)

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Thierry left the Bears after the 1998 season, playing one season with the Browns, two with the Packers and one with the Falcons. He totaled 21 sacks in those final four years, compared to 12 ½ in five seasons with the Bears. He logged one interception, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and one safety with the Bears.

Thierry and other former Bears teammates attended the late Rashaan Salaam’s jersey retirement ceremony at the University of Colorado late last month.

The Bears issued a statement offering their “deepest condolences,” saying their “thoughts and prayers go out to John and his family.” Alcorn State, his alma mater, asked their Twitter followers to keep the family in their prayers.

The Lorman, Miss., native played football and ran track at the Div. I-AA college before wowing scouts at the NFL combine.

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com