Former Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was one of the best wide receivers of his time. But after his tragic death in December of last year, many were left heartbroken with his passing.
At only 33 years old, Thomas’ death brought sorrow to every corner of the NFL world, and left many wondering how something like that could happen.
It appears the Thomas family is close to finding answers.
In an announcement made Tuesday evening, Demaryius’ parents announced that their son was suffering from stage 2 CTE when he died late last year.
The diagnosis came after examination of his brain following his death. The cause of death according to the receiver’s parents was cardiac arrest caused by a seizure disorder that led to his retirement from football in June of 2021.
NFL’s history behind CTE and Thomas’ Impact
CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) occurs when the brain starts to degenerate likely due to repeated head traumas. It has been repeatedly found in athletes who play in contact sports.
The NFL has been at the forefront of the CTE concern. In a study back in 2017, research conducted on the brains of 111 former NFL players found evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in 110 samples,
The league has provided separate funding for CTE research, and the latest collective bargaining agreement saw a massive increase in retired players’ health benefits. The league agreed to “free or low-cost screenings, preventive care, mental health services and orthopedic care at a new national network of top hospitals created by the owners and the union.”
The news of Demaryius Thomas’ CTE screening did not come as a shock to some of his NFL brethren.
“DT88 my heart weak bro… it’s a lot of us living with CTE and the NFL knows it” Dez Bryant said in a tweet. “most importantly the Athletes who have those symptoms are scared to speak.”
According to Thomas’ parents, the former Bronco was showing specific symptoms of CTE throughout his post-playing career. It led to his parents donating Thomas’ brain for science purposes.
“At first, I didn’t want to do it. I was against it,” Smith said. “But then I remembered a conversation DT and I had where he said, ‘Mom, if anything ever happens to me, I want to be able to help other players.'”
Over 700 catches, 9,000 yards and 63 touchdowns, Thomas helped the Denver Broncos win Super Bowl 50 and was a part of arguably the greatest offense in NFL history in 2013. The four time pro-bowler is second on the all-time list in Broncos history in receiving yards.
Thomas was traded to the Houston Texans during the 2018 season and later finished his career with the New York Jets.