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Demaryius Thomas, all-time Broncos great, passes away at age 33

Former star receiver was found in his home Thursday night
Demaryius Thomas
Posted at 10:16 PM, Dec 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 20:23:24-05

DENVER — Demaryius Thomas, one of the greatest receivers in Broncos history, was found dead Thursday night in his Georgia home.

He was 33.

The Roswell, Ga., police department confirmed Thomas' death to Denver7. The public information officer said that "preliminary information is that his death stems from a medical issue, and our investigators currently have no reason to believe otherwise."

A Roswell, Ga., police report obtained by Denver7 says officers were called to Thomas’s home just before 7 p.m. Thursday on a report someone was in cardiac arrest.

Officers found Thomas dead inside of a shower inside his home, the report states. The Fulton County Medical Examiner transported Thomas to its office, according to the report.

Thomas' sister told The Associated Press the family believes Demaryius died of a seizure. Multiple former teammates told Denver7 they were told this as well.

Peyton Manning said he texted with D.T., as he was known, on Tuesday night, talking about an audible that resulted in a touchdown against Arizona in 2014.

"I am absolutely devastated," Manning told Patrick Smyth, the Broncos Chief Communications Officer. "D.T. was a better person than he was a player, and he was a Hall of Fame player. That tells you how good of a person he was. He treated my kids like they were his own. He was there for every teammate’s charity event."

The Broncos released a statement after midnight.

"We are devastated and completely heartbroken by the sudden, tragic passing of Demaryius Thomas. D.T. was beloved by our entire organization, his teammates and coaches and our fans. Recently retiring as a Bronco, we were very much looking forward to celebrating Demaryius for years to come as one of the greatest players in franchise history."

“During nine seasons in Denver, Demaryius established himself as a dominant, record-setting wide receiver who was an instrumental part of two championship runs and our victory in Super Bowl 50. His legacy as a Bronco extended far beyond the playing field as a caring, generous member of our community. D.T. loved giving back—especially spending time with children—and impacted countless lives through the Broncos Boys and Girls Club, hospital visits, his annual football camp and many other genuine interactions. Demaryius’ humility, warmth, kindness and infectious smile will always be remembered by those who knew him and loved him.

“We have lost an incredible player and a special person in Demaryius Thomas. Our hearts and deepest sympathies go out to the Thomas family and all who are grieving this unimaginable loss.”

From Tom Brady to Calvin Johnson and Tim Tebow and J.J. Watt, countless NFL players, ex-teammates and coaches reacted with an emotional outpouring of love.

"Just a great dude. Amazing spirit," former Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall told Denver7.

"It was an honor to play with you. Thank you for always believing in me! Rest easy my brother," Broncos All-Pro left tackle Garett Bolles tweeted.

"Heartbroken," former Broncos star DeMarcus Ware said.

"Love You, Bro," linebacker Brandon Marshall tweeted.

"I'm so sad.. I'm heartbroken. I'm at a total loss. I'm sick.... I'm crying I'm just.... I don't know. The Azzanni family will always love you DT. I'm blessed to have known you. RIP #88," Broncos receivers coach Zach Azzanni tweeted.

"There are no words to describe the sudden loss of such a special player and special person," said John Elway, the team's president of football operations, in a tweet Friday afternoon.

"I am saddened to hear about the premature death of former Broncos Wide Receiver Demaryius Thomas," said Gov. Jared Polis in a tweet early Friday evening.

Thomas retired as a Bronco last summer, paving his way back to his eventual induction into the team's Ring of Fame. Thomas arrived in Denver in 2010 as a first-round draft choice, known for his blocking and athleticism at Georgia Tech.

He evolved into the franchise's second most accomplished receiver ever, behind only Rod Smith. Thomas, who would have turned 34 on Christmas Day, earned five Pro Bowl berths and two All-Pro selections.

He caught 724 passes for 9,763 passes for 63 touchdowns. He will forever be known for his walk-off score against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs, catching a slant pass from Tim Tebow.

From 2012 to 2017, Thomas became one of the league's premier wideouts. He averaged 96 catches and nine touchdowns per season, his rise coinciding with his connection with Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, who maintained a friendship with Thomas.

However, there was so much more to Thomas than statistics. I will remember his humility, kindness and leadership. It was not uncommon for Thomas to pull young teammates aside and instruct them on the nuances of a route or a blocking technique. Current Broncos standout Tim Patrick credits Thomas for inspiring him to become a better pro by learning what he could control through his attitude and work ethic.

From Manning to DeMarcus Ware to Chris Harris Jr., teammates admired Thomas, a longtime captain.

“I always had great respect for your toughness, your work ethic, your fearlessness across the middle, your ability to make big catches in big games," Manning said on the Broncos Twitter when Thomas announced his retirement in June. "You did it the right way.”

Former offensive tackle Tyler Polumbus, who was on the Super Bowl 50 championship team with Thomas, wrote on Twitter: "DT sat with my son the entire plane ride home from the Super Bowl. He held him on his lap on the bus, carried him and hoisted him on the fire truck during the parade and celebrated with him as if his own kid. I hope my son remembers 88."

Former Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme provided perspective, trying to make sense of the loss that is hard to reconcile.

"The text threads and calls from teammates tell the story on DT. I’m too shocked to say much but people should know this: we loved him for the same reasons u did… his authenticity, his work ethic, sooo talented, such a good teammate," Tamme said. "And man, that smile. I adored that dude."