Broncos take field with 10 men vs. Lions to honor Demaryius Thomas

The Denver Broncos took the field with heavy hearts Sunday after the loss of former wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who died on Thursday at 33 years old.

They paid tribute to their fallen former player by opening Sunday's game on offense with just 10 men on the field, leaving the 11th spot open in honor of Thomas as receiver Courtland Sutton remained on the sideline.

The Lions declined the 5-yard penalty for not having enough men on the field, and play got underway.

DENVER, COLORADO - DECEMBER 12: A #88 logo is seen on the field in memory of the late former Denver Broncos player Demaryius Thomas as players take the field before the game between the Detroit Lions and the Denver Broncos on December 9 at Empower Field At Mile High on December 12, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
The Broncos and their fans paid tribute to Demaryius Thomas on Sunday. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

The tribute was one of several in Denver on Sunday as fans and players remembered the beloved former Bronco. A memorial for Thomas was set up outside Empower Field, while Thomas' No. 88 was painted on the turf inside the stadium.

The Broncos, meanwhile, continued to honor Thomas throughout the game. After taking an early 7-0 lead, Broncos players left the ball on the No. 88 logo on the field.

When safety Justin Simmons intercepted Jared Goff in the fourth quarter, he likewise carried the ball to the logo honoring Thomas.

Fans, meanwhile, paid their own in-game tribute with a roaring chant of "DT, DT, DT" when Thomas' No. 88 emblazoned the stadium's video board.

The Broncos capped the day of tribute with a 38-10 over the Lions.

Cause of Thomas' death under investigation

Police found Thomas dead in his Roswell, Georgia, home on Thursday, six months after his retirement from the NFL. The cause of death is unclear, but Thomas' cousin LaTonya Bonseigneur told the Associated Press that he had a history of seizures and that his family believes he suffered one while showering, leading to his death.

Thomas played nine seasons in the NFL, eight of them with the Broncos. He made four Pro Bowls with the Broncos and was a key member of the 2015 team that won a Super Bowl.