An All-Pro on the Field, Demaryius Thomas Remembered as a Dear Friend to Many

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An All-Pro on the Field, Demaryius Thomas Remembered as a Dear Friend to Many

Chicago Bears

We don’t know the professional athletes that we watch. Not personally, at least. We might have met them in passing, gotten an autograph or a photo, or even covered them professionally. But, we don’t know them. Not really. And yet, sometimes, it feels like we do, right? The emotional bond many of us have with sports often makes our relationships with these players feel very real. That’s why, when a player passes away, you often feel like you lost a friend. A friend to many was Demaryius Thomas, a 33-year-old now gone too soon.

Benjamin Allbright reported this morning that Thomas died in his home from a seizure resulting from medical complications from an automobile accident in 2019.

Thomas was an exceptional talent on the football field for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, the Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, and New York Jets. The bulk of his playing career was spent with the Denver Broncos, where he ascended to the top of their franchise leaderboards in multiple receiving categories. In his nine years in Denver, Thomas caught 665 passes (3rd) for 9,055 yards (2nd) and 60 touchdowns (2nd). Only Rod Smith and Shannon Sharpe can be mentioned in the same breath as Thomas when it comes to Denver receiving records. Both Rod Smith and Shannon Sharpe also had John Elway throwing them passes for much of their careers.

Thomas made four Pro Bowl appearances and was twice named a second-team All-Pro wide receiver during his time with the Broncos, and like Rod Smith and Shannon Sharpe before him, he won a Super Bowl in Denver.

For as impressive as Demaryius Thomas was on the field, you don’t have to ask around for too long before you begin to realize that he was even more special off the field.

Thomas had a childhood that would make it understandable if he didn’t become the amazing human that he did. As a child, police raided his house and arrested his mother and grandmother for crack cocaine distribution. The two female role models in his life were sentenced to two decades in prison, and Thomas spent the rest of his childhood with his aunt and uncle. It wasn’t until January 17, 2016, that Thomas’s mother, Katina Smith, got to watch her son play football in person. Thomas and the Broncos beat Pittsburgh in an AFC Divisional Round matchup to advance to the AFC Championship. Demaryius caught four passes for 40 yards on that day.

Peyton Manning’s twins were devastated when Thomas was traded to the Houston Texans during the 2018 season. Marshall and Mosely waited outside the visitor’s locker room at Broncos Stadium at Mile High to see Demaryius after the Texans played the Broncos the week after Thomas was traded to Houston.

Thomas spent his final season in the NFL with the New York Jets in 2019. His time in New York was another piece of evidence to the person that Demaryius Thomas was beyond the football field. Thomas joined the Jets in September, and by November, he was named a team captain by his teammates.

Thomas’s time with the Jets came months after reaching a plea deal on reckless driving charges stemming from a February 2019 crash in Denver. I’m sure because this is the world we live in today, there will be someone who points to this accident as a blemish on Thomas’s otherwise pristine resume on and off the field. Thomas was a human being just like you and me, and just like you and I, his story was not perfect. He made a mistake, and he got on with his life.

Thomas said after the plea deal was reached, “I think one of my main things after my accident is having another opportunity. I could have been gone, but I still get another opportunity.”

Thomas would play 11 games for the Jets in 2019 and caught 36 passes for 433 yards and one touchdown in what would ultimately be his final NFL season. But, as I said, it was Demaryius’ impact off the field that was felt by seemingly everyone he came into contact with. I’ll let them do the talking from here.


Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.