Thomas appeared in 10 games with the Jets during the 2019 season
Former New York Jets receiver Demaryius Thomas passed away on Thursday at the age of 33. Police found Thomas dead in his Roswell, Ga. home, a short drive away from where he went to college at Georgia Tech. Early reports indicate that a medical issue might’ve played a role in Thomas’ passing, although nothing official has been announced.
Thomas was one of the most prolific receivers of the 2010s, ranking fourth in receptions (724) and receiving yards (9,763) during the decade. He entered the league as a first-round pick (22nd overall) of the Denver Broncos in 2010 after a prolific career as a multi-sport athlete at West Laurens (GA) High School.
Three collegiate seasons with the Yellow Jackets saw Thomas earn 2,339 yards and 15 touchdowns, marks that continue to stand as fourth-best in program history.
Injuries ate away at Thomas’s first two NFL seasons before he broke out for 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns during the 2012 season.
Despite the ailments, Thomas hinted at his larger potential. He notably got the best of Darrelle Revis to earn his second career NFL touchdown during an October 2010 loss to the Jets and later earned 204 yards in Denver’s 2012 AFC Wild Card victory over Pittsburgh, a game best known for Thomas’ 80-yard score with Tim Tebow on the first play of an overtime period.
Forever one of the coolest football moments growing up. Tebow to Thomas for the win 😢
Rest In Peace Demaryius Thomas wow. 🥺 pic.twitter.com/4LyA0bBW8Q
— NYSportsCast (@NYSportCast) December 10, 2021
Uniting with new franchise quarterback Peyton Manning in the following season, Thomas was a major factor in Denver’s run to Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. Though the Broncos were crushed by Seattle, Thomas set a Super Bowl record with 13 receptions (since broken by James White of New England). He’d eventually earn a championship ring two years later when Denver topped Carolina 24-10.
Though Manning’s retirement muddled the Broncos’ quarterback picture, he’d go on to earn 2,032 yards and 10 touchdowns over the next two seasons. He was eventually traded to the Houston Texans in 2018 for a pair of draft picks but he suffered a torn Achilles in the late stages of the year.
Released by the Texans, Thomas joined New England during the summer of 2019 before he became the main component of the first trade between the Jets and Patriots shortly before the start of the season.
New York sent over a sixth-round pick in exchange for 11 games of Thomas, who earned 433 yards on 36 receptions to end his career. His last professional touchdown came in a Jets uniform, as he earned a 14-yard scoring reception from Sam Darnold in a 22-21 win over Miami.
Thomas officially announced his retirement from the NFL in June. Denver signed him to a one-day contract so he could retire in orange and blue. Thomas had been honored by the Broncos during halftime of the Jets’ visit during Week 3 action earlier this year.
Tributes have poured in across the football world for Thomas, who was renowned for his friendly off-the-field demeanor. The Broncos have released a statement in the wake of Thomas’ passing and have already declared plans to induct him into its Ring of Fame at Empower Field at Mile High.
Demaryius Thomas’ football feats were incredible, but this is the man I’ll remember: The guy who was kind, always smiling, who was Uncle DT to so many kids, and who was always thoughtful and sincere in our professional relationship. pic.twitter.com/F5q1qDLVEw
— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) December 10, 2021
“We are devastated and completely heartbroken by the sudden, tragic passing of Demaryius Thomas,” Denver’s statement reads in part. “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,” it continued.
“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.”
The Jets also released a statement, reading, “A brilliant career on the field with a light that always shone brighter off of it. Gone way too soon. But your impact remains. Rest In Peace, Demaryius.”
— New York Jets (@nyjets) December 10, 2021
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags