There have been plenty of sports figures who have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, but only a few so far who have died. Orlando McDaniel, who passed away at 59 Friday night, is believed to be the first former NFL player to die from the disease. McDaniel shone in both track and football at LSU from 1978-81 and was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the second round of the 1982 draft. He only appeared in three regular season games for the Broncos (all during the 1982 season), but went on to great success as a high school track coach. LSU track coach Dennis Shaver spoke to Robin Fambrough of The Advocate about McDaniel’s impact on the track world:
McDaniel died Friday night, LSU track coach Dennis Shaver said.
“Orlando was a tireless worker for the youth in his area of (Dallas-Fort Worth) ,” Shaver said. “His youth North Texas Cheetahs Track Club, year after year, developed many of the great athletes competing for universities throughout the United States.”
Shaver said McDaniel, who starred at LSU from 1978-81, had recently traveled to Washington, D.C., and fell ill after returning home.
Social media saw plenty of tributes to McDaniel, including from other coaches and programs and from Texas congressman Colin Allred:
Coaches don’t just prepare athletes to compete, they prepare them for life. All of N Texas will feel the loss of Coach McDaniel to COVID-19, but my heart goes out especially to the young women he coached to greatness. Thank you for the lives you touched. https://t.co/1hSm8FUr3W
— Colin Allred (@ColinAllredTX) March 28, 2020
Devastated & heartbroken. Orlando was so much more to kids, & families than just a coach. He was a legend on the track, but his legacy will live on for years to come w the hundreds of lives he touched. I am still in disbelief. We love you @OrlandoMcDaniel . #Praying #NTC 💜 pic.twitter.com/DLUXkyoNfX
— LakeRidgeTrackAndField (@Lake_RidgeTrack) March 28, 2020
We extend our prayers to the family and loved ones of NTC’s founder/head coach Orlando McDaniel who passed away this morning to COVID. He has touched so many lives in the track world especially his athletes. He will be missed. Stay safe out there everyone 💜🙏🏾💛
— NTX Jackrabbits (@NTX_Jackrabbits) March 28, 2020
We lost a valuable member of our track and field community. NTX Elite head coach Orlando McDaniel passed away last night due to complications from Coronavirus (COVID-19).https://t.co/CoMJDUabG2 pic.twitter.com/tqp1QjVEfT
— Texas MileSplit (@TXMileSplit) March 28, 2020
During his time at LSU from 1978-81, McDaniel caught 64 passes for 1,184 yards and three touchdowns in four seasons in a run-focused offense, with his average of 17.5 yards per catch as a senior ranking second in the SEC. He also shone in track, placing second in the NCAA 110-meter hurdles in 1980 and third in 1981. And he went on to impact many more lives as a coach. Our thoughts go out to McDaniel’s family and friends.