DENVER — An autopsy report shows former Denver Broncos standout receiver Demaryius Thomas died from complications related to a seizure disorder.
The manner of death remains undetermined, according to the report form the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office.
Thomas was found dead on December 9, 2021 in the shower of his Roswell, Ga. home. The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office in Atlanta, Ga., performed an autopsy on Thomas the next day. The medical examiner released a statement at the time saying it had conducted laboratory studies and microscopic examination of tissue slides on Thomas, who was 16 days shy of his 34th birthday when he died.
It is unknown whether Thomas’s seizure disorder was a result of natural causes or head impacts incurred during his NFL career. It was recently revealed that he had Stage Two CTE.
The Fulton County Medical Examiner stated said it was the opinion of a Boston University doctor (Chris Nowinski) that regarding Demaryius Thomas "there is not a direct relationship between (CTE) and the development of the seizure disorder.''
The autopsy report said Thomas was found dead in his shower with the water running but his face, mouth and nose were not submerged. The report added he was 6-foot-4, 231 pounds "has a muscular build, well developed and well nourished." His blood tested positive for nicotine and marijuana, according to the report, with neither mentioned as a contributing factor to his death.
> Video above from December: Friends, family say goodbye to Demaryius Thomas.
His death shocked and saddened the NFL and Broncos communities. The Broncos paid tribute to Thomas prior to and during their next home game on Dec. 12 against the Detroit Lions, most notably with a memorial outside the south end of the stadium where Peyton Manning and his kids where among the thousands who paid their respects. The memorial featured a ring of flowers with a blue No. 88 centerpiece (Thomas wore No. 88 with the Broncos). On the field near the south end zone there was also an "88" logo where the defensive players kneeled after every turnover in their 38-10 win against the Lions.
Thomas had just retired last summer after 10 seasons, the first 8 1/2 with the Broncos.
The Broncos were to honor Thomas at their home opener Sept. 26 against the New York Jets, the last team he played for in 2019. However, that event was postponed because Thomas was dealing with health issues.
From 2010, when the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Thomas was selected by the Broncos, until he was traded to Houston halfway through the 2018 season, Thomas compiled enough production to rank second in team history with 9,055 receiving yards and 60 touchdown catches while his 665 receptions ranked third.
Rod Smith remains the all-time leader in all three categories (849 catches-11,389 yards-68 TDs), while Shannon Sharpe, a Hall of Fame tight end, finished second in catches (675).
Counting his 10 playoff games with the Broncos, Thomas finished his career with 777 catches for 10,522 yards and 69 touchdowns. Impressive considering he was a raw receiver from a Georgia Tech program that featured a run-oriented option offense during his three seasons there. Still, in what may have been his best decision in an otherwise turbulent two seasons as the Broncos’ head of football operations, Josh McDaniels saw enough in Thomas to make him the No. 22 overall draft selection in the 2010 draft -- two spots ahead of where the Dallas Cowboys chose the more heralded (and controversial) receiver Dez Bryant and three selections in front of where the Broncos took quarterback Tim Tebow.
Thomas’ career got off to a slow start because of offseason injuries prior to his rookie year of 2010 and second year of 2011, but he had two breakout games late in the magical Tebow season of 2011. The first was game 12 at Minnesota when Thomas snared 4 catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns – all in the second half – to lead Denver to a come-from-behind, 35-32 win.
Impressive as 36 yards per catch was, Thomas did even better in the Broncos’ first-round playoff game against the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers when he had four catches for 204 yards – 51.0 yards per catch – including an 80-yard catch-and-run walk-off touchdown reception from Tebow on the first play of overtime that gave Denver arguably its most exciting home win since their 1977 AFC Championship Game victory against the rival Raiders.
The 2011 season is also where Thomas began his string of 122 consecutive games played – 132 including playoffs – perhaps his most unappreciated accomplishment in a career of many. During the four-year period from 2012-15, when Manning was the Broncos’ quarterback, Thomas was unquestionably one of the NFL’s top three receivers, along with Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. During that remarkable four-year span, Thomas averaged 101 catches for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns, easily the most dominant receiving run in team history.
Thomas also played in two Super Bowls during that stretch. He set a Super Bowl record with 13 catches in a 43-8 loss to Seattle in Super Bowl 48, then had one catch in the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 win against Carolina.
During the Super Bowl champion reception at the White House in June 2016, Thomas arranged to have a letter delivered to Barack Obama, which asked the sitting President to pardon his grandmother from a lengthy prison sentence on drug charges. Two months later, Obama did indeed commute Minnie Pearl Thomas’ sentence. A year earlier, Obama had commuted the sentence of D.T.’s mom, Katina Smith, who had also been imprisoned because of drug-related crimes.
Born on Christmas Day, 1987, Thomas was 11 years old when a police raid at his Georgia home resulted in the arrest of his mom and then his grandmother on drug charges. Despite that traumatic childhood moment, Thomas was able to become one of the NFL’s best players during the 2010 decade and join Rod Smith and Lionel Taylor as one the three best receivers in Broncos history.
A little more than a month after his death, Thomas’ home was again visited by Roswell Police, this time to investigate a robbery of his possessions, including a personally signed Tom Brady jersey. Former sheriff’s deputy Vashone Jones was arrested on a trespass charge. Jones told police he used to live at Thomas’ home and helped with his medical issues.
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