ENGLEWOOD—Demaryius Thomas said he thought he was exchanging jerseys with a longtime friend, not Public Enemy No. 1 to the No Fly Zone.
Thomas, the Denver Broncos’ star receiver, and Harry Douglas, the cheap-shotting backup receiver for the Tennessee Titans, went through the customary jersey exchange and posed for a photo while holding up the other’s game-worn jersey following their game Sunday.
Thomas attended Georgia Tech in Atlanta and Douglas grew up outside Atlanta and played for the Atlanta Falcons from 2008-14.
Still, fraternizing with Douglas after the game was not a good look for Thomas after the Tennessee receiver threw a hard cut block on Denver cornerback Chris Harris Jr.’s right knee away from the play late in the first half.
Harris was down for a couple minutes with a bruised and cut knee but returned after one play.
Fellow Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib retaliated on the next play by engaging Douglas in a scuffle along the Tennessee sideline. Talib later said he was going “to beat his ass,’’ when he and Douglas meet up in Atlanta during the offseason.
“At the time I didn’t even know about it,’’ Thomas said. “I stayed on the sidelines (on the other side of the field). I don’t get into brawls. I didn’t really see it until after the game.
“I’ve been knowing Harry for eight-plus years now. He’s a great dude. I know he didn’t mean anything bad. But from seeing the play, he could have stayed up and not done that to Chris. I’m always going to have my guy’s back. I fight with (Harris) every day out there. I see him every day. At the time I didn’t know it was him. I thought it was 18 at the time.’’
No. 18 is Tennessee receiver Rishard Matthews.
Harris accepted Thomas’ explanation.
“If he didn’t know about it, I can’t be mad,’’ Harris said. “If he knew about it, of course I would have been mad. But those guys have known each other for a long time, they probably arranged before the game to exchange jerseys after the game.’’
Thomas indicated that friend or no friend, Douglas should probably cut out the cut blocking when it’s well away from the play and both players have let up.
“I know he’s a guy who likes to cut block a lot of guys,’’ Thomas said. “I’m not going to say out of character but I know what he likes to do is cut and at that time I don’t think it was necessary.’’
So far, neither Douglas or Talib has been fined. Perhaps, the league felt it couldn't discipline Douglas because it was technically a legal play, but also had no problem with Talib taking action such an egregious act.
Von Miller, a serial jersey swapper himself, defended Thomas.
“I’m not sure that ‘D.T.’ even knew what happened on the play,’’ Miller said Thursday at his weekly press conference. “Even if he did, is ‘D.T.’ supposed to not give him a jersey because of what happened? I think they go way back. They have a relationship off the football field. It was really foggy during the football game, anyway. I didn’t really see what happened until we got in the locker room and I got to my phone.’’