A Groveton legend is no longer with us, but will never be forgotten.
Rodney Thomas was an incredible player, but more importantly, an incredible overall human being.
Not a dry eye left the building at his funeral service Friday morning, as family, friends, and former coaches and players reflected on the life of Thomas.
"Oh, there's no question there will never be another Rodney Thomas ever," said former Texas A&M teammate Clif Groce.
A little over a thousand people were in attendance for Thomas' funeral, and with that comes a lot of memories.
"Rodney was a great player, but his character, and who he was as a person, far overshadowed his playing," said former Texas A&M coach of Thomas' R.C. Slocum.
To overshadow his play on the field would be hard to do.
At Groveton Thomas lead the Indians to back-to-back state championships in 1989 and 1990. He also earned a spot in the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame.
He took his talents to Texas A&M and lead in rushing for four straight seasons. Naturally with his character, his teammates gave him the Aggie Heart Award which is given to a senior who exhibits effort, determination, leadership and courage.
Thomas then played 7 years in the NFL between the Houston Oilers, Tennessee Titans and Atlanta Falcons.
"He was one of the most remarkable young men I ever met and made a lasting impression on anyone he ever met. He made our teams better because he was such a quality human being," said Slocum.
Slocum and former teammates of Thomas' who traveled from all across the country for Friday's service said he was able to make a tremendous impact in the short 41 years of his life and touched many lives in a positive way.
"He touched the lives of everybody he came in contact with. He was so loving, and kind, and religious, and he stuck to his guns no matter what," said Groce. "I feel blessed to have been able to play with someone like that, not only to play with them, but be a real friend to someone like that."
Thomas' success never got the best of him. Friends were adamant when they said Thomas' heart never strayed from his humble beginnings in Groveton.
"This isn't about football. It isn't about his life on the field. This is his life as a man, how many people he touched, and how special he was to all of us," said Charley Cockrell, a former high school teammate and friend of Thomas'. "He was a hero. He was the guy who loved everybody, who took advantage of the opportunities that were before him, and if you knew him, he made life better to be around him."
An entire town now mourns not because they lost a football hero, but because they said they all lost a friend.
Thomas leaves behind his wife and two children.
One major point the family speakers at the funeral made was to try to do something for someone every day. It can be a very simple act of kindness, and you too can live a life like Rodney Thomas.
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