The Untold Truth Of Demaryius Thomas

The entire play took 10 seconds. From the snap, which occurred on January 8, 2012, during the very onset of overtime of the AFC Wild Card game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium, to its euphoric conclusion took a count of t. It was something that both Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas would never forget. 

Per The Denver Post, it unfolded like this: Tebow took a snap from the shotgun position, looked to the middle, and saw Thomas wide open. He threw a dart to the wide receiver, who then began streaking toward the end zone. The crowd got louder as he got closer, leaving Pittsburgh players in the dust. Only Ike Taylor stood a chance to tackle him, and Thomas gave him a stiff arm as he scored. The noise level rivaled even the loudest thunderstorm as the Broncos and their fans began exuberantly exulting, and the Steelers could only stare dejectedly on the sideline as they saw their season come to an unceremonious end. The game was over, and Denver was advancing to the next round. 

People were reminiscing about that play when they heard about Thomas dying far too young on December 9, 2021, at the age of 33, via ESPN. But he was far more than just that one frozen moment in time — he was a Super Bowl winner, a good teammate, and a family man. 

Success with the Broncos

The euphoric overtime playoff game-winning moment would not last. There is no room in football for sentiment. The Broncos then went on to face the New England Patriots in the next round, and they thoroughly muzzled Tim Tebow while thrashing them, 45-10, per Pro Football Reference. Demaryius Thomas had a good game, catching 10 passes for 93 yards in vain. Then came an off season that saw Tebow get traded to the New York Jets and Peyton Manning come in to replace him.

Thomas benefited from the presence of Manning, racking up 1,000-yard receiving seasons five straight times, via ESPN. He was a Pro Bowl selection four of those five years and was a vital cog in the team that won a Super Bowl in 2015. Then he began to slow a bit as he hit his 30s, only netting 949 yards in 2017. He then split the '18 season between Denver and Houston, finishing with 677 yards. His final season was with the New York Jets in '19, when he had 433 yards. After spending a year as a free agent, he knew he was no longer a commodity in the NFL and retired. 

An amazing college football player

Demaryius Thomas, who grew up in Dublin, Georgia, played college football at Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference from 2007 to 2009. The speedy wide receiver finished fourth all time in receiving yards with 2,339 career yards, trailing Calvin Johnson by nearly 600 yards. He would have finished higher had he not made an important career decision.  

Thomas made college football his playground. He basically torched the entire ACC in 2009, catching 46 passes for 1,154 yards, which led the entire conference, via Sports Reference. Eight of those catches wound up being touchdowns. How dangerous was he on the field? He averaged 25.1 yards after making a catch. College defensive coordinators likely had nightmares trying to think of ways to contain him. 

How good was Thomas? He decided to skip his senior year of college at Georgia Tech and enter the NFL Draft, where his next chapter in football would begin. 

Picked high in the NFL Draft

NFL scouts held Demaryius Thomas in high regard. The Georgia Tech star knew that and decided to go professional. The Denver Broncos wanted him on the team and selected him in the first round of the 2010 Draft with the 22nd pick, per Pro Football Reference. He didn't set the league on fire during his first two seasons, getting 283 yards in '10 and then 551 in '11 as he became more of an integral part of the Broncos' offense. It was in '12 that things began to truly click. That was when the Broncos began reaping the rewards for their high-round pick. 

When it was all said and done, the Denver stat sheet for Thomas reads: 665 receptions for 9,055 yards and 60 touchdowns. Overall, he finished with 724 receptions for 9,769 yards and 63 touchdowns, per Pro Football Reference. It was an excellent career that placed him 54th overall. There is some debate whether that will be enough for him to be enshrined in Canton. Off the field, though, his family already considers him a Hall of Famer for what he did for both his mother and grandmother.  

The football star used his voice to help family

It was not an easy life for Demaryius Thomas at first. Both his mother and grandmother were sent to prison when he was young, according to The U.S. Sun. They were reportedly running a Georgia drug ring. It may have been very difficult for him growing up without those two family members, but he never stopped thinking about them as he made his way through high school, college, and the NFL. Finally, he saw an opportunity to use his voice to help them gain freedom. He started a petition that went all the way to the White House and President Barack Obama pardoned both of them in 2015.

Then trouble struck in '19. Thomas had an accident where his car overturned several times when he was going 70 miles an hour. There were two passengers in the car, and they received minor injuries. Thomas pleaded guilty to reckless driving and got a year's probation as a result, per Bleacher Report. But the crash may have had tragic repercussions down the road for him. 

Remembered for many reasons

After his retirement in June 2021, Demaryius Thomas told the media he was looking to "find my next itch," per the NFL. Sadly, he never got that chance, being found dead in his shower on December 9. Per The U.S. Sun, Thomas' cousin stated he apparently had been suffering from seizures over the past year. "We're not sure when he died. We just spoke with him yesterday," his cousin LaTonya Bonseigneur stated.

Whatever the case, his life cannot be boiled down to just one moment during a playoff game, a car accident, or helping family get out of jail. A stat sheet does not encapsulate his life. Tributes poured out on social media sites like Twitter soon afterward, with thousands of people, including players and reporters, mourning his death. They painted a picture of a good man who treasured team and family, and who treated people well. Those are the things that go to make up a life.