Demaryius Thomas, the great wide receiver who died last week at the age of 33, played in many big games for the Broncos against the Patriots. But he also played briefly for the Patriots, and even though he never played a single regular-season game in New England, he made an impression on coach Bill Belichick.
Belichick said Thomas arrived in New England with a strong recommendation from offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who had drafted him and coached him in Denver, and that everyone in the NFL world thought highly of Thomas.
“That’s a very sad and unfortunate situation. Our thoughts and prayers to his family. Great kid, who didn’t have an easy start to his life. He embraced every opportunity that he had and had relationships with everybody from the top all the way down to the lowest ballboy,” Belichick said, via MassLive.com. “He always had a smile on his face. Worked hard. Team player. A very passionate and compassionate individual. He did everything you asked him to do. Everybody has a ton of respect for DT. Josh knew him well, better than anyone in this locker room, but we had a lot of people who had relationships with him. They were all positive. I don’t think anyone could ever find a bad word to say about him. We think about all he went through, what he accomplished in his life and what he had to overcome. He was a great player and a better person.”
Thomas played nine seasons for the Broncos and was a four-time Pro Bowler. He then had short stints of less than a year with the Texans, Patriots and Jets before retiring.