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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It’s been more than a week now since legendary Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas was traded to the Houston Texans, but ol’ No. 88 has found a way to stay front and center in the headlines through it all.
The latest chapter in this ugly-divorce story stems from an interview Thomas did with former Broncos Ray Crockett and Rod Smith on Orange & Blue 760 earlier this week.
In the fiery interview, Thomas makes five eye-opening statements, claims or accusations:
- That Broncos head coach Vance Joseph lied to him about trade rumors, stating, “It’s not true.”
- That Joseph and Elway wanted to trade him because they believed he was “the problem” on offense.
- That “every player” told him they voted for him yet he wasn’t named a captain, and he was “heartbroken” about it.
- That receiver coach Zach Azzanni disrespected him by asking him, not anyone else, to come out of the Jets game in order for DaeSean Hamilton to get more reps.
- That Broncos coaches would not listen to his suggestions on in-game adjustments.
(See the full comments at the bottom of this story)
On Wednesday, the head coach was given a chance to respond.
“I would say this about that,” he began when asked about the alleged lie regarding trade talks. “No. 1, we have great respect for DT. Myself, John [Elway], Zach [Azzanni] and all the guys who were included in that article—I guess you could say or the conversation—have great respect for DT. That’s first. I think secondly, I’m disappointed to read those things about how he recalls the conversations going. It was obviously a week and a half where the rumors and gossip were flowing, and we talked about the rumors and gossip. Until something happened, we all had to focus on doing our jobs and winning football games. That was, from my end, that was discussed.
“I’m disappointed in how he remembers it, but again, we have great respect for DT,” Joseph added. “He was a great player here, and we honored him on Sunday. We didn’t win the game; he won the game. I think it’s a little frustration on his part, but I’m disappointed in how it came out because I don’t recall it being discussed that way. And that’s OK. The last point: we’ve got to move on. He’s got to move on, and we have to move on. He’s no longer a Bronco, and I can’t spend any time worrying about that. As far as reading the stuff, I’m disappointed it was presented that way. I really am.”
Joseph was then asked if he was made aware that Thomas was so broken up about not being named a captain, and he took that chance to reiterate the way in which captains are chosen.
“No. Our players vote for the captains. They vote for the guys they see fit, who they want to lead their football team. I’m not sure where that comes from or who discussed that with DT, but again, I have great respect for him. The players vote for the captain, and they voted for who they thought was the best guy to lead their football. That’s it.”
There’s a bit to unpack here, but let’s start with the trade stuff. On this one, it’s easy to see both sides. First of all, it’s Joseph’s job to keep the players that are on his roster at that exact moment focused and motivated. Whether he directly said they were false when he knew there was some truth to it all could be nitpicked, but the fact of it is, it’s his job to operate as if the rumors are untrue until they are true.
On the other hand, it’s understandable from Thomas’ standpoint that he would feel wronged by being jerked around throughout the situation.
In the end, it was really a lose-lose situation for Joseph, an awkward situation that many coaches have to deal with.
As for the captain stuff, that’s where things get a bit jumbled. DT saying “every player,” told him they voted for him is probably a bit of hyperbole, but he’s a guy who has been a captain before and there isn’t any obvious reason why he wouldn’t have been picked again. As to his insinuation that something shady was going on, it’s not hard to see why it could be beneficial for coaches to appoint guys who may not win a popularity contest as captains. Maybe the coaching staff wanted Matt Paradis’ voice to be heard a bit more in the locker room, or maybe the locker room felt Paradis had earned the right to be a captain. Who knows?
In the end, it seems eight days is enough time in the spotlight for a player who is no longer a Bronco, yeah? As Joseph said, time to move on.
Thomas’ comments on Orange & Blue 760
On the weeks leading up to the trade
“It was so tough. Even leading up to the Kansas City game it was tough, because that one day, I didn’t say anything to anybody. I walk into the job, and Vance Joseph walks up to me and says, ‘Don’t listen to the trade talks, it’s not true.’ Before the season started, the trade talk was still going, and nobody said anything to me. Why come to me Monday when it’s the same talk? When he said that to me, I said, ‘How is it not true? My agent called me today and said Elway wanted a fifth-round pick for me.’ So, we’re telling stories to each other now? I thought we were going to be men about this… Leading up to the Kansas City game, that’s when this all started—the emotional everything, because I knew it was something. I knew something was going to happen, but I still had to grind it out, play their game and get through it, because I didn’t know… I played the game like I was going to be here, but I didn’t know. Listening to that from him, and then another couple coaches coming up to me and saying, ‘Oh yeah, it’s all fake.’ Then it really happens, it’s like—man, it is what it is.”
On alleged comments that he was the problem on offense
“You know what bothers me—I don’t want to stir any pot—but it bothers me… I had people from Denver saying like, ‘They really said they got rid of you because you were the problem on offense and they said they wanted to better the offense. I’m like, ‘Really, bro?’ People just kept stirring it on… I heard they were saying that Vance was saying something, and Elway was saying something. I did so much for this organization and never had nothing bad to say about anybody—none of the players I played with. I just did my job and kept it as professional as I could. For you all to say that I was one of the reasons that the offense wasn’t going, and say this and that, man, that hurt.”
On not being named captain
“It did affect me a lot, because before we even chose captains, I went upstairs, and I had a conversation with Mr. Elway. [Gary] Kubiak reached out to me one day, and Elway was just telling me how he wanted me to be a leader in another way, because usually, I’m on guys because I know guys are better than what they are and what they put on film. I want guys to go out and fight like I do every day. I don’t care if we’re winning or losing, you’ve got to put your best ball on film because if you don’t, you’re not going to be in this league a long time. I was on guys, and I guess they didn’t want it that way… When I had the meeting, I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to be a captain again.’ I go to the meeting room, and it’s like every player came to me and was like, ‘How are you not a captain? We picked you.’ I was like, ‘Man, it’s all good, bro. I’m going to be here for you all. I did whatever I had to do to make sure Courtland Sutton was right, DaeSean Hamilton, Tim Patrick, Isaiah McKenzie. Even defensive guys from Brendan Langley, all of them. I just want guys to be great in this league. I wasn’t there to try and start nothing with nobody. I wanted everybody to be good on this squad, because it would make us better as a team. To not be a captain, it was just heartbreaking.”
On being asked to sit out a few plays so DaeSean Hamilton could get more reps
“My receiver coach came to me and said—he could’ve said this to either Courtland (Sutton) or Emmanuel (Sanders), but he came to me and said it—he said, ‘I want to get DaeSean in the game more than one rep. I want to get him going 4 to 6 plays of reps.’ I’m like, ‘Bro, I’ve been here nine years, and you ask me besides anybody else?’ I’m like, ‘That’s so disrespectful to me, because I’ve put so much into this game, but you want me to come out for a rookie?’ I don’t have anything against it, because he’s a great player, I love DaeSean Hamilton to death. When I knew it was that, I was like, ‘I’m out here just to be out here.’ It was tough.’’
On coaches not listening to players’ suggestions
“If you want to be better, you got to listen to your players. They’ve been playing this game for a long time and when you don’t change stuff up on the field—there were games where I wanted to change stuff up on the field because I saw it and I knew it would help us. I used to do it with Peyton, it helped the offense, I just try to make us better, but when you don’t want to listen to players, that [losing] is what’s going to happen.”