Former New York Giants player Aaron Thomas, who caught 35 touchdown passes, dies at 86


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Aaron Thomas, one of the most prolific receiving tight ends in the history of the New York Giants, died last week at his home in Corvallis, Oregon, following a lengthy illness. He was 86.

The Giants announced Thomas’ death Friday. The team said he died on April 26.

Thomas played 116 regular-season games for the Giants between 1962 and 1970. He ranks 17th in franchise history with 254 receptions, 14th with 4,253 yards and is tied for sixth with 35 touchdown catches. He missed only seven games in his career because of injury.

“He’s almost like the early version of (Kansas City Chiefs tight end) Travis Kelce,” his son, Robb Thomas, who played a decade in the league, told the team’s website. “He was a tight end and flanker, but he really ran good routes and had a good feel about getting into open space.”

A fourth-round draft pick in 1961, Thomas was traded to the Giants after two games in 1962. Two years later, Thomas led the Giants with 43 receptions for 624 yards and six touchdowns and was selected to the Pro Bowl. In 1967, he posted career-high totals of 51 catches, 877 yards and nine scores. He retired following the 1970 season.

After his NFL career, Thomas became a stockbroker in Los Angeles before he and his father bought a restaurant/bar/bowling alley in Yreka, California. Thomas later moved to Oregon, where he was the head football coach at Klamath Falls High School for three years in the early 1980s. He then returned to his alma mater, Oregon State, where he was the assistant director of the Beaver Club until 1989.

Thomas is survived by his wife, Joan, and children Troy, Robb, Lance and Leslie.