Former Minnesota Vikings star Orlando Thomas -- one of the best defensive backs in the league back in the '90s -- has died after battling ALS.
The 42-year-old -- who led the NFL in interceptions in 1995 -- revealed he was battling the disease in 2007 ... 3 years after he first began exhibiting symptoms.
Thomas was a stud in the NFL -- he was a 2nd round pick in the '95 Draft and was a key player on the 1998 Vikings team that went 15-1 and went all the way to the NFC championship. He retired in 2001.
Orlando's agent Mark Bartelstein issued a statement saying ... "Nobody's ever fought a battle like Orlando fought, with so much dignity -- I never saw anything like it. It's just incredible."
Bartelstein added, "He never had a sense of self pity, never felt sorry for himself, he was always worried about everyone else. He was just the most incredible person I've ever been around."