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Former Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas announces retirement after stellar career

Former first-round pick will be honored before Sept. 26 opener
Demaryius Thomas
Posted at 5:00 PM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 19:00:12-04

DENVER -- Demaryius Thomas, one of the greatest receivers in Broncos history, ran his last route Monday, announcing his retirement.

Thomas called it a career in a video released on the Broncos Twitter feed.

"I came to a decision to hang it up. And I am going to retire a Denver Bronco. I am honored and grateful, appreciative, so many things I could say," Thomas said. "I am just happy to say I am done, and it did me well."

Drafted in the first round out of Georgia Tech, Thomas morphed from a raw receiver with blocking skills into one of the league's most productive players. He earned five Pro Bowl berths, two All-Pro selections, while catching 724 passes for 9,763 yards and 63 touchdowns. He also walked off the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs on the first play of overtime, racing to the end zone after catching a slant from Tim Tebow.

From 2012 to 2017, Thomas averaged 96 catches and nine touchdowns per season, his rise coinciding with his connection with Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.

“I always had great respect for your toughness, your work ethic, your fearlessness across the middle, your ability to make big catches in big games," Manning said on the Broncos Twitter. "You did it the right way.”

Thomas brought unique size and strength to the position -- 6-foot-3, 225 pounds -- without compromising speed.

"I think he understood the game so well. He was very knowledgeable and ran great routes," Chargers cornerback and former Broncos star Chris Harris Jr. told Denver7 on Monday. "He had such strong hands, was very physical. He helped me get ready for the bigger receivers. And hopefully I helped him. It was great to have DT out there."

According to sources, the Broncos will honor Thomas before the Sept. 26 home opener against the New York Jets, and he will serve as an honorary captain.

"Taught me so much about football, but more importantly about life!" Broncos receiver Tim Patrick tweeted. "Real life (goat)."

Though not boisterous, Thomas earned respect with his production and toughness. It was hard to find a week that he wasn't dealing with nagging leg or ankle pain. As a bigger wideout, he absorbed huge hits, but he rarely missed a snap, let alone a game.

"The most unselfish receiver I ever played with," said former Broncos tackle Ryan Harris, a member of the Super Bowl 50 championship team. "Not only was he talented and prepared to make every play, he worked just as hard for others when the ball wasn’t in his hands. Not to mention what he accomplished after all his surgeries as a young player."

Thomas was voted a captain multiple times by his teammates. In the later stages of his career, he was compromised by injuries, but made time to work with younger receivers. Others noticed. It hurt his stats in his final year with the Broncos before he was traded to the Texans, but did not diminish his standing.

"I think that’s the most unselfish thing can do is lay your body on the line and play when you are hurt," Chris Harris said. "There were a lot of times he was really not healthy. He fought through it his entire career. That's the type of player he was. His name belongs in the rafters."

Thomas should be a lock for the Broncos Ring of Fame. As a receiver, he ranks second in team history in receptions (718), yards (9,816) and touchdowns (66) to Rod Smith.

“Demaryius had an incredible NFL career and was such a big part of everything we accomplished during his many years as a Bronco. D.T. was the complete package as a wide receiver, growing into one of the very best at his position. The combination of his size, speed, strength and athleticism was unmatched. Demaryius’ remarkable consistency and production were instrumental in our offense setting historic records and our team winning a lot of games, including two AFC Championships and Super Bowl 50," Broncos head of football operations John Elway said in a statement.

"Equally as impressive as his many catches, big plays and touchdowns was the fact he didn’t miss a game for nearly seven years in a row. You could always count on D.T. He belongs among the greatest players in Broncos history for what he’s meant to this organization on the field and out in the community. We appreciate everything Demaryius did for us and congratulate him on his retirement from the NFL.”