ENGLEWOOD – Apparently, even a thank you banner draped from the outside of the stadium and pregame scoreboard tribute was not enough to ease some of the resentment Demaryius Thomas feels towards Broncos’ general manager John Elway, head coach Vance Joseph and his coaching staff.
“It just hurts me, man, I'm emotional,’’ Thomas said during an explosive, if rambling interview Monday on Orange & Blue radio (760 AM). “I’m empty still.”
Thomas – who was traded last week from Denver, his team during the first 8 ½ years of his career, to the Houston Texans -- spoke glowingly of his relationships with the Broncos’ support staff, specifically the public relations, operational and equipment departments, kitchen staff, mailroom clerks and groundskeepers.
It’s clear he does not feel the same way, however, about the team’s football leadership.
“It was so tough,’’ Thomas said of the split from the only NFL team he had known. “Even leading up to the Kansas City game (October 28) 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 (Todd France) 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.'"
Thomas also told the radio hosts – Marc Stout and former Broncos’ Ray Crockett and Rod Smith (who made a guest appearance) -- he had heard from others that Elway and Joseph were critical of his role within the Bronco’s 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,’’’ Thomas said. “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."
Joseph was asked Monday about comments Thomas made that were less than flattering about the Broncos’ team after Denver lost to his new team, the Texans, 19-17 on Sunday.
"I think it's just a player who won a game, who was excited to win the game,’’ Joseph said Monday. “That's not my focus or concern right now, as far as who's saying what, and the high school conversations of after-the-game facts. We can't be concerned about that. That's a winning football team. They won the game, so good for them, but I can't be concerned about that he-said-she-said stuff."
In Thomas’ day-after radio interview, it was clear he was also bothered he was not voted a team captain this year for the first time in several seasons.
"It did affect me a lot, because before we even chose captains, I went upstairs, and I had a conversation with Mr. Elway,’’ Thomas said. (Former head coach and current personnel consultant 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."
Thomas also opened up about how receivers coach Zach Azzanni approached him during the Broncos’ loss to the New York Jets with the stated intention he wanted No. 4 receiver, rookie DaeSean Hamilton, to get more playing time at Thomas’ expense.
“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.’’
While Thomas apparently needs more time to resolve his personal feelings with the organization’s coaching and personnel department, he is grateful to the Broncos fans and support staff who supported him.
"All I want to say to Broncos Country is that it was an honor,’’ Thomas said at the end of his radio interview. “It was an honor from day one to yesterday. The love that you all brought to me, to the city, to my family—you all took me in.
“Teammates, organization, all of Denver, Colorado and so many people I came across were so nice to me throughout the whole process and the whole thing. I love everybody and always will.
“Like I said, the Denver Broncos and the Bowlens gave me my opportunity to be in the NFL. Even after my first year, I got drafted and I was hurt. My second year I was hurt, and they still stuck with me.
“They could've gotten rid of me and I could've probably never played a down of football again. But they believed in me, they trusted in me and I respect that. At the end of the day, that's what it's all about: taking care of your business and owning up to everything. I love the city still, and I'm always going to love the city because that's where it began."