The world of American football is in mourning after the sudden death of Demaryius Thomas, five-time Pro Bowl star and Super Bowl winner, at the age of 33, just months after his retirement.
Thomas was the 22nd overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft fresh out of Georgia Tech.
Joining the Denver Broncos, he became one of the league’s best wide receivers and, in 2016, helped the franchise win a first Super Bowl title in 17 years alongside Peyton Manning.
Announcing his retirement at the end of June, however, the player known for his constant and infectious smile was found dead at his home in Roswell, Georgia on Thursday night.
Thomas’ cause of death is still unclear, but police said preliminary reports suggested his death was related to a medical issue with no indication of foul play.
In a statement, the Broncos said they were “devastated and completely heartbroken by the sudden and tragic passing” of a former charge who would have turned 34 on Christmas Day.
“DT was loved by our entire organization, his teammates, his coaches and our fans,” added the Broncos.
“During nine seasons in Denver, Demaryius established himself as a dominant, record-breaking wide receiver who was instrumental in two championship runs and our Super Bowl 50 win.
“His legacy as a Bronco extended far beyond the playing field as a caring and generous member of our community.
We are devastated and completely sorry. Demaryius’ humility, warmth, kindness and contagious smile will forever be remembered by those who knew and loved him. pic.twitter.com/0GLZIr6UP3
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 10, 2021
The Broncos told how Thomas “liked to give back”especially for children, while “impacting countless lives” through its youth clubs, hospital visits, annual football camp and “many more authentic interactions”.
“Demaryius’s humility, warmth, kindness and contagious smile will forever be remembered by those who knew and loved him.” it was concluded.
Manning, considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, said Thomas “was a better person than he was a player, and he was a Hall of Fame player”.
“It shows you how good he was. He treated my kids like they were his own. He was there for every teammate’s charity event.
“I texted DT on Tuesday. He was talking about an audible touchdown we called against Arizona in 2014. Absolutely devastated,” Manning is done.
Posting a photo of the couple together at a restaurant, pass rusher and former colleague DeMarcus Ware wrote a simple “sorry” legend.
Catching 724 passes while scoring 9,763 yards and 63 touchdowns, Thomas holds Broncos records for most receiving yards in a game (226) and a season (1,619) in addition to most touchdown receptions in a season. (14).