The last two seasons, Julius Thomas has been a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, racking up 108 catches, 24 touchdowns and 1,277 receiving yards.
In 2014, he had nine touchdowns through five games until injury slowed his historic pace. He’s been unstoppable in the red zone and was a vital piece for a team that racked up a 25-7 record in two years.
By contrast, Thomas’ first two years in the NFL were starkly different.
In 2011 and 2012, Thomas caught only one pass for seven yards and only played in nine games. Injuries were his biggest huddle to getting on the field.
The monumental differences between Thomas’ first two years in the league and his last two years have everyone asking, which player is the real Julius Thomas? Is he the injury-riddled player we saw in 2011, 2012 and the end of 2014? Or is he the top-five tight end we saw is 2013 and the beginning of 2014?
If calculating the Thomas’ value wasn’t tough enough as he enters unrestricted free agency, another curveball was thrown the Broncos way this week.
Brandon Spano of Mile High Sports Radio (AM 1550 | FM 94.1) reported earlier this week that Thomas turned down an offer worth $8 million a year before the 2014 season. This spurred a sequence of odd events from Thomas’ camp.
After receiving a tip from a listener, Spano discovered that Thomas’ dad, Greg Thomas, had a history of defending his son online. This led Spano to monitor the comment section of his story that was picked up by Mile High Report. Much to his surprise, an interesting note appeared.
Here are a couple of highlights from the commenter defending Thomas:
“You losers need to quit…..BLACK OPPORTUNITIES MATTER!!!
Looks like John Elway has his henchmen are working overtime. Glad to see so many ‘so called’ Broncos Fans showing their true colors. It’ll be totally classic to see him come back to Denver in Silver & Black and rip the Broncos and their loser fans a new one.”
Regarding Thomas’ ankle injury:
“He had to see a Dr. outside of the organization to get an honest evaluation on his ankle. Just like the 1st time he hurt his ankle.”
And on the topic of Thomas playing hurt:
“Coach Fox begged him to play when they knew his ankle was hurt so they could keep defenses honest. It was the only way they would have a chance to get a bye in the playoffs. He was only out there as a decoy for a few of games, yet he gets knocked for his production and not playing hurt.”
The final summary of his complaint:
“Reality: A young black man has a chance to get a decent contract and some merciless losers try to attack him with false stories and negative comments. At the same time they are swinging on Peyton’s nuts. But no one is attacking him (Peyton) for being greedy, selfish, unloyal, and overpaid. No one is attacking Peyton for being a one dimensional player, a liability, lacking in numerous areas, etc, etc.”
The comment was posted by user Lethylg.
After reading the comment, Spano did some great investigative work and found someone on Twitter using the handle @Lethylg60, this appears to be account of Greg Thomas, Julius’ dad. And he’s had someone interesting things to say about the Broncos over the last year or so:
@PostBroncos Don't blame Fox for Elway giving Peyton the reigns and making him uncoachable, unapproachable and bigger than the TEAM.
— Greg Thomas (@lethylg60) January 13, 2015
@PostBroncos Too bad Fox didn't have the power to bench Manning. Using Osweiler would have been a great transition for Franchise's future.
— Greg Thomas (@lethylg60) January 13, 2015
There is a lot going on here, but none of it looks good for No. 80.
First, it’s absurd to insinuate that any of this has to do with race. John Elway and the Denver Broncos have recently given plenty of money to young, talented black athletes – T.J. Ward, $22.5 million; Aqib Talib, $57 millon; Emmanuel Sanders, $15 million; Chris Harris, $42.5 million.
It simply makes no sense for anyone to play the race card in this situation.
Second, Thomas has slowly begun to be viewed as “soft” – fair or not – and utilizing your dad as the hatchet man to dispel those rumors isn’t going to change that.
If Thomas has a complaint about his treatment by his coaches, his teammates or the media, he needs to step up and address them himself. As a professional athlete, those criticisms are going to come with the territory. If he can’t deal with those condemnations, a) he’s in the wrong profession, or b) they hold some truth.
All and all, none of this helps a very talented tight end looking for a huge payday.
The truth is Thomas has proved he can produce if he’s healthy and on the field. For a player that’s missed nearly two-and-a-half years because of injury, that’s a big if. Needless to say, it appears that with Greg Thomas seemingly throwing Manning, Elway and everyone else in the Broncos organization under the bus for his son, the former Portland State basketball star’s days in Denver are numbered.
To be continued…
Here is a screenshot of the comment Spano was able to capture on Mile High Report before is was taken down.