February 2, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) addresses the media during a press conference prior to Super Bowl 50 at Santa Clara
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – There is backlash to everything.
Win the lottery and the taxes are higher and friends in need multiply. Earning a promotion means dealing with resentment.
Demaryius Thomas is large by receiver standards at 6-foot-3, 229 pounds and that size has helped him catch 444 passes in the past four seasons, counting the postseason. The problem with being such a large target, though, is Thomas is sized up for all those defenders to tackle.
That’s a lot of hits he’s taken in four years.
“I am feeling it,’’ Thomas, the Broncos’ top receiver, told 9NEWS this week. “I feel it every week. I still feel it sometimes throughout the week getting ready for the next game. It’s no fun. Because when they hit at your legs, hit after hit after hit, you start feeling it.”
Thomas is the only receiver in the NFL who ranked seventh with both 105 catches and 1,304 yards, helped his Broncos secure a date Sunday with Super Bowl 50 against the Carolina Panthers, and yet repeatedly drew the inquiry, “What’s wrong with Demaryius?’’
SportingCharts.com had Thomas with nine drops this season, behind only Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans, who had 11, and three other receivers who had 10.
Bronco fans might have tacked on a few more for Thomas.
“Sometimes, I think I was overthinking on the field,’’ he said. “Sometimes critical drops I had I could have made plays on. Especially on third down to keep the drive going. I think I had five (drops) at least on third down that would have kept the drive going and put us in a position to either get three points or a touchdown. Those were kind of big and they made a big deal about.”
If Thomas had to do it all over again, he would not have said he was going to break the NFL single-season receiving record in 2015. He stated this lofty goal during his press conference last July that announced his new five-year, $70 million contract.
The problem is the record is 1,964 yards, set by his old college teammate, Calvin Johnson, in 2012. In the new, run-first offense installed of Broncos’ first-year head coach Gary Kubiak, a season approaching 2,000 yards is not realistic. Even when quarterback Peyton Manning was throwing the ball up and down the field in previous years,Thomas' career-best was 1,619 yards.
“I know I probably should not have said that,’’ Thomas said. “Probably could have been a reason why I had not so good of a year like I usually have.’’
When Thomas said he was overthinking this year, it’s understandable because he had two heavy topics to think about.
One was his contract. The perception is players don’t play as well after receiving big money because they lose motivation. In Thomas’ case, he tried too hard to live up to his new deal that paid him $22 million this season alone in signing bonus and salary.
“You’ve got to because if you don’t you hear people, “Oh, he should not have got this, he doesn’t deserve that,’’’ Thomas said. “So you want to go out and try and do even better than what you did before you even got the contract.’’
There was also the matter of his mother’s release from prison after 15 years. It wasn’t just the media regularly seeking a fresh update to the feel-good story. It was more about the busyness and government hassles of getting her acclimated to the real world.
“That was the main part,” he said. “Of course I was going to get it in the media, questions about her and how I’m doing. But it was the fact that she was out for a while, I couldn’t see her. Then she had the (couldn’t) travel thing, I couldn’t see her. And then getting her set back to regular life.
“Her sisters and my sisters were around (in the Atlanta area) as well but it was big because I wanted to make sure everything was right. … I was able to do some stuff for her but to touch (her in person) is totally different.’’
This is the second time in three years Thomas will play in the Super Bowl. First time his mom will be in attendance. The last time, Thomas set a Super Bowl-record with 13 catches. The Broncos were creamed, 43-8, by the Seattle Seahawks.
Many of those catches occurred while the Broncos were way behind.
“Nobody remembers those,’’ he said.
He would take a healthy zero catches Sunday if his Broncos beat the Panthers.
“Yes sir, any time,’’ he said. “ Zero catches, no stats, I still got to go out and do my job and take the win. That’s all that really matters now is the win.’’
(© 2016 KUSA)