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Remembering “DT”

Demaryius Thomas
Image Courtesy of The Denver Broncos
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Demaryius Thomas Passes at 33

As Ravens fans and as a site that covers the team, it’s only natural that we don’t get to know or become familiar with players who wear colors other than purple and black. Our focus is centered upon what those players do that might prevent the Ravens from winning. We might admire them from afar, perhaps wish they were Ravens, or even hope for their best whenever they’re not on the Ravens schedule, any given Sunday.

Too often we fail to recognize their human qualities. Perhaps not intentionally, but in our minds the players are often reduced to robotic-lifeforms that we cheer for. We hope that they can improve our quality of life through their successful performances on the field. Should they fail, we might even carry contemptuous thoughts about them after a loss, one that somehow has derailed our lives for the next few days. How could these players rain on our planned Sunday parade?

Of course this is extreme hyperbole, but you get the picture. Imagine your job affecting the mood of millions. That carries a lot of pressure – significant weight. I thought about these things when I learned of the sudden and all-too-soon passing of Demaryius Thomas.

“DT” was a four-time Pro Bowler, a two-time All Pro and a Super Bowl Champion. During his 10-year career, the 2010 NFL Draft’s 22nd overall pick had 724 catches for 9,763 yards and 63 touchdowns. We were all aware of his on-field accomplishments. Not until his demise did I learn of how universally loved he was off it. DT would have been 34 on Christmas Day.

Watching this video and reading the tributes that are flowing in left me with tears of sadness. How could someone so magnanimous, someone with such a zest for life and others, be taken so suddenly.

Here are a few responses and Tweets in response to the news from those who knew him best as shared by The Athletic:

Peyton Manning

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.

I texted with D.T. on Tuesday. He was talking about a TD audible we called vs. Arizona in 2014. Absolutely devastated.

Jacob Tamme

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. And man, that smile. I adored that dude.

Lindsay Jones, NFL senior writer:

[News] of his sudden death is hitting so many people hard in Denver because of who he was off the field, the adversity he overcame to even get to the NFL and how he treated people during his career. He was the favorite player of most of his teammates’ and coaches’ kids.

One of my favorite Thomas stories came from an assistant coach, who told me a few years ago that his son invited Thomas to his 4th birthday party. The coach told Thomas not to worry about it, but Thomas showed up … and stayed the entire party.

When Thomas was traded to the Texans in 2018 and returned to Denver to play the Broncos a few days later, Manning’s son, Marshall, was devastated. Thomas was his favorite player. I spent that surreal Sunday afternoon shadowing Thomas, and my lasting memory of that day was Thomas scooping Marshall Manning up in a hug in the hallway outside the Texans’ locker room.

About two months after the Broncos’ drafted Thomas in 2010, before he had even played his NFL snap, I traveled to his hometown in south Georgia, to meet his family and see where he was raised. On that trip, I also visited his mother and grandmother in prison in Tallahassee, Fla., where they had been incarcerated on drug offenses since Thomas was a child.

As we sat in the living room of his uncle’s house, Thomas told me his dream was to find a way to play long enough in the NFL that his mother would be able to see him play, and not just on television.

She was still in prison when he played in Super Bowl 48, but after having her sentence commuted by President Obama in 2015, she was able to watch her son win a Super Bowl ring. In June 2016, Thomas hand delivered a note to President Obama during the Broncos’ visit to the White House to say thank you.

The world isn’t quite as bright as it was yesterday.

Rest in peace, Demaryius…

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