Josh McDaniels, head coach of the New England Patriots, lamented his former star wide receiver Demaryius Thomas’ death on Wednesday. A native of Georgia who was drafted by Denver in 2010 and played for four years before leaving to sign with Houston where he last caught three passes this past season, is now out at least a year after tearing his Achilles tendon during training camp. “Devastated,” said McDaniels about when he found out that Thomas had injured himself on Tuesday night.
Josh McDaniels fondly recalls Demaryius Thomas, ‘devastated’ by former WR’s death.
In November 2017, shortly after the Denver Broncos were defeated by the New England Patriots, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels saw Demaryius Thomas approaching him with a grin and an embrace.
It wasn’t the first time the two men had had a friendly interaction over the years, but it was particularly memorable for McDaniels.
McDaniels, who was Denver’s head coach when the Georgia Tech wide out was picked with the 22nd choice in the 2010 NFL draft, was thanked by the Broncos receiver.
“He always gave me a hug and praised me for having confidence and trust in him,” McDaniels told ESPN. “Then he had a photo taken of us by the [Broncos’] team photographer. Later, I received a framed photograph that he had signed and accompanied with a lovely message.”
That framed photograph hangs at McDaniels’ home office. And it’s been tough for McDaniels to look at Thomas’ untimely death at his home in Roswell, Georgia, since the NFL world heard of it Thursday evening. Thomas was 33 years old at the time.
“Devastating,” McDaniels remarked, echoing the sentiments of many who knew Thomas. “He was the most talented individual I’d ever worked with. What a remarkable individual. I’m heartbroken for his family and everyone who knew him. DT was fantastic.”
During the Patriots’ bye week, McDaniels had some additional time to read the tributes that many individuals in the NFL world posted on social media.
“There were so many nice things written,” McDaniels recalled, “and they were all true.” “He was exceptional in that he nurtured every connection he built throughout the course of his life. He was a one-of-a-kind athlete and guy.”
From 2009 through 2011, McDaniels was the head of football operations for the Denver Broncos. He recalls a trip he took to Atlanta with general manager Brian Xanders during the draft week as they approached decision time. While Thomas received positive feedback from organizations, many anticipated Dez Bryant to be the first receiver taken in 2010.
The Broncos astonished everyone by selecting Thomas first overall, although there were significant questions about both Thomas and Bryant’s histories.
Thomas’ mother and grandmother were both in jail when he was 11 years old, having been caught for their participation in a drug trafficking conspiracy. Thomas had no personal red flags, but investigators wanted to know how the arrests and subsequent jail sentences of the most significant people in his life had affected him.
“We spent the whole day with DT, and despite what had happened to his mother and grandma, he was such a brilliant, amazing young guy,” McDaniels recounted. “He coped with a variety of challenges and was wise beyond his years.” He was simply a ray of sunshine.
“I didn’t coach him during his career, but he always kept in touch with me. He’d give me that embrace and thank me every time we played. I informed him that he had fulfilled his obligation. He had a special talent for developing connections. [After Thomas’ death], every message I read or saw was accurate. Like many others, I’m saddened. He had to be required by the Lord.”
Thomas was discovered dead at his home in Roswell, Georgia, authorities reported Thursday night. According to preliminary findings, Thomas’ death may have been caused by a medical condition, according to authorities.
The family thinks Thomas died as a result of a seizure, according to LaTonya Bonseigneur, a first cousin who grew up with him and considered them siblings. Thomas may have been suffering seizures in recent months, according to former colleagues.
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