How Broncos, Lions and referee coordinated on touching tribute to Demaryius Thomas

The Broncos honored the late Demaryius Thomas in variousย ways Sunday as they faced the Lions in Denver, including by having the offense take the field with just 10 players for its first play from scrimmage. Denver then took a delay of game penalty.

The tributeย was planned Friday morning after the news of Thomas’s death Thursday night. Denver spoke with Detroit later in the day and the organization told the players Saturday. It informed referee John Hussey before the game.ย 

MORE: Family believes Thomas may have died from seizure

The Lions declined the penalty as cheers filled Empower Field at Mile High in honor of Thomas. The Broncos then displayed 88, Thomas’s number, on the stadium video board.

Before the game, the Broncos showed a video tribute on the scoreboard. That was followed by a moment of silence.

Peyton Manning and his family attended Sunday’s game. Thomas was one of Manning’s star receivers on their 2016 Super Bowl championship team. In a pregame interview, Manning said that Thomas was one of the reasons he signed with Denver as a free agent.

MORE: Josh McDaniels calls Thomas ‘best person I have ever coached’

A memorial was set up outside the stadium for fans to mourn a franchise great. A framed jersey and a photograph of Thomas wereย displayed. The Broncos had an artist paint a portrait of Thomas outside stadium before the game. The painting was brought into the hallway by the Broncos’ locker room so the players could see it as they got ready to head to the field.

The Broncos also painted 88 on the sidelines and roped off an area around the number.

All the Broncos players have 88 on their helmets. Some players arrived to the game wearing Thomas jerseys.

MORE: Manning, football world react to Thomas’ death

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