NFL icon dead at age 33 after ‘medical issue’
The world of American football is in mourning after the sudden death of five-time Pro Bowl star and Super Bowl winner Demaryius Thomas at the age of 33 just months after his retirement.
Thomas was the 2010 NFL Draft's 22nd overall pick fresh out of Georgia Tech.
Joining the Denver Broncos, he became one of the best wide receivers across the league and, in 2016, helped the franchise win a first Super Bowl title in 17 years alongside Peyton Manning.
Announcing his retirement in late June, however, the player known for his constant, infectious smile was found dead at his home in Roswell, Georgia on Thursday night.
The NFL family mourns the tragic loss of Demaryius Thomas and we extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. pic.twitter.com/rAXYguAUy1— NFL (@NFL) December 10, 2021
Thomas' cause of death is still unclear, but police said preliminary reports suggested his passing is related to a medical issue with no indications of foul play.
In a statement, the Broncos said they were "devastated and completely heartbroken by the sudden, tragic passing" of a former charge who would have turned 34 on Christmas Day.
"DT was beloved by our entire organization, his teammates, coaches, and our fans," the Broncos added.
"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.
We are devastated and completely heartbroken.Demaryius' humility, warmth, kindness and infectious smile will always be remembered by those who knew him and loved him. pic.twitter.com/0GLZIr6UP3— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 10, 2021
The Broncos told of how Thomas "loved giving back", especially to children, while "impacting countless lives" through its youth outreach clubs, hospital visits, his yearly 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," it was concluded.
Heartbroken. #RIP Young Legend.DeMaryius Thomas 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 #88 pic.twitter.com/JRT99jUwlx— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) December 10, 2021
Manning, regarded as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, said that Thomas "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 DT on Tuesday. He was talking about a touchdown audible we called versus Arizona in 2014. Absolutely devasted," Manning finished.
Heartbroken 💔 pic.twitter.com/e3EbU0aPeP— D-Ware (@DeMarcusWare) December 10, 2021
Posting a photo of the pair together at a restaurant, pass rusher and former colleague DeMarcus Ware wrote a simple "heartbroken" caption.
Catching 724 passes while notching 9,763 yards and 63 touchdowns, Thomas holds the Broncos' records for most receiving yards in a game (226) and season (1619) in addition to the most touchdown receptions in a season (14).