On Friday, former Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders unveiled one of the most meaningful tributes to his former teammate Demaryius Thomas, as he and the Boys & Girls Club of Buffalo revealed a new game room in Thomas' memory, who passed away suddenly in December.
At that difficult time, Bills fans showed their support for Sanders by making donations to Sanders' charitable foundation in Thomas' honor. That generosity became tangible in the form of making a contribution to their local Boys & Girls Club, as Thomas had a longstanding commitment to the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Clubs during his career.
The new room features a billiard table, an air hockey table, a foosball table and, behind it all, a wall with photos of Sanders and Thomas in the shape of Thomas' 88 uniform number.
"I know right now that Demaryius is smiling down from heaven because this is everything he loves," Sanders said. "When it comes to kids and the Boys & Girls Club in Denver, he was always involved with the Boys & Girls Club, always going there and making the kids smile. He was like me; we're making the kids' day, but the kids are making our day. So, to have this here is amazing."
During four memorable seasons together, Thomas and Sanders formed the most productive receiver tandem in Broncos history and were integral parts of the 2015 team that won Super Bowl 50.
As part of the ceremony, the Boys & Girls Club also played a message from Thomas' mother, Katina Smith.
"You guys both broke records, set records," Smith said. "You gave me some of the most memorable moments of a football game that I've ever experienced in my life, and for that I'll forever be grateful. But most importantly, I am truly grateful as a mom, as a friend, that you was a friend to D.T. Not only were you a friend to D.T., but you were his brother, as well. And he talked a lot about you and your family, how much that he loved and cared for you all. I knew you all before I even met you because of the way that D.T. expressed his love and his concern and his respect for you and your family, and your family then became my family. It's just with an honor and a love of a mother to say to you this day. Thank you for allowing your game room to be named after my son in memory of him to continue his legacy so other kids in this world will know who is 88 and what 88 has done. I was trying not to cry, but this is something that is really dear to my heart. Even though I'm not there in the physical sense, you just don't know how happy you have made me as a mother to know that his legacy is continuing on through people like yourself."
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Another Super Bowl 50 teammate, Von Miller, is chasing a second title this week in Los Angeles with the Rams. As the game gets closer, Miller has a unique position as the savvy vet with championship pedigree that can lead his next team to a Lombardi Trophy.
"With everything you hope for on the line, he performed his best," DeMarcus Ware told ESPN's Jeff Legwold. "I prided myself on being a leader for that team, it was important to me. And I had done a lot of things in my career to that point, but I didn't have a ring until after we won. Now, Von can bring all of that leadership, all of those things you have to have, and when he talks everybody knows he not only has a ring, but he himself played one of the best games ever to get it."