The NFL is mourning the loss for Demaryius Thomas, the former Denver Broncos wide receiver who passed away suddenly last week at 33 years old. The Broncos played their first game since Thomas’ death on Sunday, and they began the game by honoring their former star.
On their first play against the Detroit Lions, Denver lined up only 10 men on the field, leaving a wide receiver spot open to honor Thomas. The Broncos were hit with a delay of game penalty, but the Lions declined it.
The Broncos would go on to win, 38-10.
The Broncos opened today's game with 10 players, leaving the X receiver position empty to honor the late Demaryius Thomas.— SB Nation (@SBNation) December 12, 2021
The Lions declined the delay of game penalty. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Xd61Y228On
There were tributes to Thomas all over the stadium. Fans gathered to a memorial outside to pay their respects, including Peyton Manning and his family. Thomas’ No. 88 plastered on the field and video boards.
With the Broncos in control in the fourth quarter, linebacker Justin Simmons made a diving interception on an errant throw from Jared Goff. Simmons ran to the sidelines and placed the ball on a No. 88 tribute for Thomas.
Justin Simmons made an incredible diving INT and then immediately went to the No. 88 honoring Demaryius Thomas and put the ball there.— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) December 12, 2021
Simmons and Thomas were teammates for three years.pic.twitter.com/EqImGHlLwK
After the game, Simmons said he could feel Thomas’ presence in the stadium.
“I think you can tell D.T. was here.” pic.twitter.com/SiImVw0qnq— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 13, 2021
The Broncos also released this tribute video for Thomas.
Remembering one of the greatest and most beloved players in Broncos history.— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 12, 2021
This one’s for you, D.T. pic.twitter.com/joFVCJEbkE
Here’s what the memorial looked like outside the stadium.
#BroncosCountry x 8️⃣8️⃣ pic.twitter.com/gZBIiKWxBz— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 12, 2021
Rest in peace, DT.