Former Giants TE Aaron Thomas dies at 86

Former Giants tight end Aaron Thomas died April 26 at his home in Corvallis, Oregon, after a long illness, the team announced Friday. He was 86.

Thomas became one of the most prolific tight ends in team history during his nine-year career.

He played 116 regular-season games for the Giants from 1962-70, and he remains 17th in franchise history with 254 receptions, 14th with 4,253 yards and tied with teammates Homer Jones and Del Shofner for sixth with 35 touchdown catches. Thomas also had two receptions in the 1963 NFL Championship Game.

He missed only seven games in his career due to injury.

"I ordered a highlight film from the NFL called, 'Aaron Thomas NFL.' It's on YouTube," Robb Thomas, Aaron's son, who played 10 years in the league as a wide receiver, told the team website. "I love watching that because it's so much fun to see all the old Giants players and be able to see some of the amazing things he did. He's almost like the early version of [Chiefs tight end] Travis Kelce. He was a tight end and flanker, but he really ran good routes and had a good feel about getting into open space."

The 49ers selected Thomas in the fourth round of the NFL draft and the Dallas Texans took him in the 16th round of the AFL draft. He played the first two games of the 1962 season with San Francisco before Giants head coach Allie Sherman, who had coached Thomas in the Senior Bowl, traded for him.

Thomas, who retired following the 1970 season, became a stockbroker in Los Angeles before he and his father bought a restaurant/bar/bowling alley in Yreka, Calif., about 30 miles from his hometown of Weed. 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 Oregon State, where he was the assistant director of the Beaver Club from 1983-89.

Thomas was inducted into the State of Oregon Hall of Fame in 1982 and the Oregon State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990.

Thomas was preceded in death by his first wife Jeanie, who died 27 years ago, and his son, Todd. He is survived by his wife, Joan, and children Troy, Robb, Lance, and Leslie.

Funeral arrangements are pending.