Georgia football: Demaryius Thomas’ death reminds us to appreciate life

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 28: Demaryius Thomas #8 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets against the Georgia Bulldogs at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 28: Demaryius Thomas #8 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets against the Georgia Bulldogs at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Georgia football may not have been directly affected by the terrible news of Demaryius Thomas’ death this week. Still, it does remind us how short life is and why it’s important to take a deep breath and appreciate what it gives us.

According to those who knew him best, Thomas represented everything one should strive to be, not only as a player but as a person.

His loss is a tragedy and something all fans should reflect on because he embodied what it meant to be a good man on and off the field. He did things the right way and was someone people respected.

Georgia football and fans, in general, should look at the death of Demaryius s a sign to change how we treat players.

The Georgia native attended West Laurens High School in Georgia and was a standout wide receiver at Georgia Tech, especially during his 2009 breakout season. He accounted for an ACC leading 1,154 yards and eight touchdowns on 46 catches.

Thomas was Tech’s leading receiver in 11 of 14 games that season, including against Georgia when he reeled in five catches for 127 yards and one touchdown in a narrow 30-24 loss to the Dawgs.

He earned First-Team All-ACC honors for his efforts in 2009 and became the first wide receiver selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He is most well-known by most for catching Tim Tebow’s 80-yard walk-off touchdown pass in overtime for the Broncos’ AFC Wild Card playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

His accomplishments piled up even further upon the arrival of Peyton Manning in Denver. Thomas became just the fourth receiver in NFL history to record at least 90 catches and 1,300 receiving yards in four consecutive seasons, joining the likes of Marvin Harrison, Jerry Rice and Torry Holt.

In June, he retired from football with four Pro Bowl selections and a Super Bowl 50 championship ring. Thomas holds the second-highest total receiving yardage mark in the history of the Broncos and is one of the best players to ever suit up in Denver.

As renowned as Thomas became through his successes on the field, he was much more than that.

Beyond the stats, figures and accolades, Thomas was a person that anybody would want to be around. It was rare to see him off the field without his infectious smile. He treated fans and media members with respect regardless of the occasion.

Thomas played through minor injuries through the latter stages of his career, toughing them out because he wanted to be on the field. As a result, he often faced criticism for play that wasn’t up to his standards from fans who were unaware. He simply ignored the noise and kept pushing.

This sometimes unrealistic standard we as fans set is where fans should have some perspective. Whether in college or at the professional level, the athletes that we enjoy spending hours watching and dissecting their every movement on the field are people too. There is no telling what a player is dealing with mentally, physically, or emotionally at any given moment.

They play a game for a living and don’t have to if they don’t want to. While we enjoy watching these guys suit up for our favorite teams, they are human beings too, and have emotions.

The person behind the numbers came from a broken family. Thomas’ mother didn’t get to watch him play football for the first time until 2016 during Denver’s Super Bowl run because of reasons she had to handle.

To become as successful as Thomas did as a player and be as humble and kind as he was, most were unaware of the struggle he went through and the obstacles he had to overcome throughout his life.

His relatively quiet demeanor combined with explosive athletic talent and under-appreciated toughness made Thomas a fan favorite in Denver. Understanding the person underneath the helmet made it more difficult for rival fans to root against him.

A person’s heart can’t be measured. Their will, determination and drive can all go relatively unnoticed. Those attributes won’t show up in a box score. Fans must take the time to understand that these athletes are fighting their own battles as well as the ones they’re fighting on the field.

Life is short. Make sure to appreciate those you care about, whether it be an athlete, friend, co-worker, family member or anyone that comes into your life.

Fans loved Thomas from Georgia to Colorado, and fans will never forget the type of player and person he was. No matter who he played for, those involved in football mourn him as Thomas was taken far too soon from this world, which should put a lot into perspective.

Next. Georgia Football: Why the Orange Bowl is a perfect semifinal. dark

It doesn’t matter where he played, Thomas did things right, and his death should make everyone think about how we sometimes handle our fandoms. Life is short, too short to hate, troll and throw negative energy towards football players who play a game they love for a living.