The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

January 30, 2014

Thomas' mom, grandma have to root from prison

(Continued)

Thomas played at Georgia Tech and was a first-round pick by Denver in 2010. Injuries slowed him down until his 80-yard catch from Tim Tebow in overtime beat Pittsburgh in the playoffs.

Two months later, Peyton Manning came to Denver and Thomas has flourished ever since, catching 204 passes for 3,089 yards and 27 touchdowns over the last two years.

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound deep threat has an uncanny mix of size, speed and strength — Wes Welker laughed about his "Triple-XL gloves." Dominique Rodgers Cromartie said he lost a bet when he challenged Thomas to throw a ball 60 yards from his knees "and he just flicked it!"

Yet, Thomas is the antithesis of the prima donna wide receiver who demands passes and attention. He never says a thing to the cornerback covering him, much less talk trash.

It goes back to the values instilled in him by his aunt and uncle, Thomas said.

"It made me a stronger man and a better man just being in that atmosphere, working harder, knowing that nothing's going to be easy."

Brown said it wasn't easy taking in another child with three kids of his own and just one paycheck, but he found ways to make it all work. He also found the money to keep Thomas involved in sports.

"I truly believe his Christian upbringing and sports, playing basketball and football, contributed to him releasing a lot of the anger and anxiety that he had in him," Brown said. "He left it on the basketball court, on the football field so it didn't get bottled up in him."

Thomas led all NFL receivers in TD receptions (14) and yards after the catch (718) this season while grabbing 92 passes for 1,430 yards. In the playoffs, he has 15 receptions for 188 yards and TDs in both of Denver's wins.

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