The Denver Broncos traded Demaryius Thomas to the Houston Texans on Tuesday, but a big part of his heart will always belong in Denver.

Not only was he the longest tenured player for the Broncos, but he was extremely active in the community, whether attending toy drives, visiting patients at children’s hospitals or hosting youth football camps. He was also loved in the locker room, not just by teammates but by their children, too.

Thomas is one of the NFL’s good guys. The Texans are getting a player who is capable of putting up big numbers on Sundays, but also getting a person who is ready and willing to shoulder the work off the field.

Just ask Dan and Melissa Durkee, who lost their 11-year-old son, Drake, in a rafting accident. Drake had been a participant in the Pro Bowl wide receiver’s summer football clinic and when Thomas heard the news that one of his favorite campers had passed, he was a pillar of strength and love for the Durkee family.

“He sent a very nice letter to us just expressing how sad he was,” Dan Durkee told CBS4 shortly after Drake died.

He also sent flowers and invited the family to speak at his annual summer football camp, so they could tell campers exactly who Drake was. Thomas created the Drake Durkee Courage Award, which goes to the camper  who displays the most courage during the week.

“He was a courageous kid and this will live on,” Dan Durkee said. “And he won’t be forgotten and one of the kids from camp that does a great job has the right attitude and is a good teammate will receive that award in Drake’s name every year.”


Photo: The Drake Durkee Foundation


Thomas also started to wear a wristband during the 2015 season to honor Drake and help the family spread the word about the Drake Durkee Foundation, an organization that aims to motivate, inspire and educate children to see the impact of intentional kindness and help promote inclusion.

So, while Thomas makes his new home in Houston, there’s no doubt he’ll always be welcomed back in Denver. And perhaps now — if J.J. Watt is Batman when it comes to giving back in Houston — maybe there’s a new Robin in town.