Former Raiders cornerback Alonzo "Skip" Thomas, one of the more colorful members of the club's first Super Bowl championship team, died in Kansas on Sunday of an apparent heart attack.
Thomas, a seventh-round draft pick out of USC in 1972, played six NFL seasons, all with the Raiders, and was on the 1976 team that beat Minnesota in Super Bowl XI.
His death at age 61 comes just three days shy of the one-year anniversary of the death of former teammate and close friend Jack Tatum.
"We are saddened by the passing of Alonzo 'Skip' Thomas," the club said in a statement. "He proudly wore the Silver and Black from 1972-78. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. He was a true warrior, a great Raider, and will be sorely missed."
Thomas started in the defensive backfield along with Tatum, cornerback Willie Brown and strong safety George Atkinson in a defensive backfield dubbed the "Soul Patrol."
Thomas was an imposing physical specimen who loved to play the intimidator, nicknaming himself "Dr. Death."
"I was going over it in my mind looking at a picture with the four of us in it, and there are only two of us left now," Atkinson said. "There's a void there."
Thomas had been in failing health in recent years and needed assistance to get around when attending Tatum's funeral a year ago, according to Raiders administrator and former teammate Morris Bradshaw.
"He was one of a kind. He was different, but he had a very
Brown remembers Thomas as an exceptional athlete who was fearless regardless of the caliber of opposition.
"He probably never got the credit due him because of the secondary we had," Brown said. "He was a great basketball player in high school, and everything seemed to come naturally to him."