The National Football League Comeback Player of the Year Award refers to a number of awards that are given to a National Football League (NFL) player who overcomes adversity to return to remarkable performance, in the form of not being in the NFL the previous year, a severe injury, or simply poor performance.[1] The awards have been presented by several organizations, including the Associated Press (AP), Pro Football Writers Association (PFWA), Sporting News, and United Press International (UPI). As of the 2022 season, Chad Pennington has been the only recipient of the award to have won the Associated Press NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award in multiple seasons.

AP Comeback Player of the Year award (1963–1966, 1998–present)

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From 1963 to 1966, the award was given to both an NFL and AFL player. No award was given between 1966 and 1998. In recent years, reigning award recipients Andrew Luck and Alex Smith have retired before the upcoming season.[1][2]

AP Comeback Player of the Year
Year Player Position Team College
1963 Jim Martin Kicker Baltimore Colts Notre Dame
Paul Lowe Running back San Diego Chargers Oregon State
1964 Lenny Moore Baltimore Colts Penn State
Abner Haynes Kansas City Chiefs North Texas
1965 John Brodie Quarterback San Francisco 49ers Stanford
Paul Lowe (2) Running back San Diego Chargers Oregon State
1966 Dick Bass Los Angeles Rams Pacific
Babe Parilli Quarterback Boston Patriots Kentucky
No award given between 1967 and 1997
1998 Doug Flutie Quarterback Buffalo Bills Boston College
1999 Bryant Young Defensive tackle San Francisco 49ers Notre Dame
2000 Joe Johnson Defensive end New Orleans Saints Louisville
2001 Garrison Hearst Running back San Francisco 49ers Georgia
2002 Tommy Maddox Quarterback Pittsburgh Steelers UCLA
2003 Jon Kitna Cincinnati Bengals Central Washington
2004 Drew Brees San Diego Chargers Purdue
2005 Tedy Bruschi Linebacker New England Patriots Arizona
Steve Smith Sr. Wide receiver Carolina Panthers Utah
2006 Chad Pennington Quarterback New York Jets Marshall
2007 Greg Ellis Defensive end Dallas Cowboys North Carolina
2008 Chad Pennington (2) Quarterback Miami Dolphins Marshall
2009 Tom Brady New England Patriots Michigan
2010 Michael Vick Philadelphia Eagles Virginia Tech
2011 Matthew Stafford Detroit Lions Georgia
2012 Peyton Manning Denver Broncos Tennessee
2013 Philip Rivers San Diego Chargers NC State
2014 Rob Gronkowski Tight end New England Patriots Arizona
2015 Eric Berry Safety Kansas City Chiefs Tennessee
2016 Jordy Nelson Wide receiver Green Bay Packers Kansas State
2017 Keenan Allen Los Angeles Chargers California
2018 Andrew Luck Quarterback Indianapolis Colts Stanford
2019 Ryan Tannehill Tennessee Titans Texas A&M
2020 Alex Smith Washington Football Team Utah
2021 Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals LSU
2022 Geno Smith Seattle Seahawks West Virginia
2023 Joe Flacco Cleveland Browns Delaware

PFW/PFWA Comeback Player of the Year award (1972–present)

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From 1972 to 1991, the Comeback Player of the Year award was presented by Pro Football Weekly (PFW) only. PFW and the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) combined their awards from 1992 to 2012.[2]

Season Player Team Position College
1972 Earl Morrall Miami Dolphins Quarterback Michigan State
1973 Roman Gabriel Philadelphia Eagles NC State
1974 Joe Namath New York Jets Alabama
1975 Dave Hampton Atlanta Falcons Running back Wyoming
1976 Greg Landry Detroit Lions Quarterback UMass
1977 Craig Morton Denver Broncos California
1978 John Riggins Washington Redskins Running back Kansas
1979 Larry Csonka Miami Dolphins Fullback Syracuse
1980 Jim Plunkett Oakland Raiders Quarterback Stanford
1981 Ken Anderson Cincinnati Bengals Augustana
1982 Lyle Alzado Los Angeles Raiders Defensive end Yankton
1983 Billy Johnson Atlanta Falcons Wide receiver Widener
1984 John Stallworth Pittsburgh Steelers Alabama A&M
1985
No award given
1986 Joe Montana San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Notre Dame
Tommy Kramer Minnesota Vikings Rice
1987 Charles White Los Angeles Rams Running back USC
1988 Greg Bell Los Angeles Rams Notre Dame
1989 Ottis Anderson New York Giants Miami
1990 Barry Word Kansas City Chiefs Virginia
1991 Jim McMahon Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback BYU
1992 Randall Cunningham UNLV
1993 Marcus Allen Kansas City Chiefs Running back USC
1994 Dan Marino Miami Dolphins Quarterback Pittsburgh
1995 Jim Harbaugh Indianapolis Colts Michigan
Garrison Hearst Arizona Cardinals Running back Georgia
1996 Jerome Bettis Pittsburgh Steelers Notre Dame
1997 Robert Brooks Green Bay Packers Wide receiver South Carolina
1998 Doug Flutie Buffalo Bills Quarterback Boston College
1999 Bryant Young San Francisco 49ers Defensive tackle Notre Dame
2000 Joe Johnson New Orleans Saints Defensive end Louisville
2001 Garrison Hearst (2) San Francisco 49ers Running back Georgia
2002 Tommy Maddox Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback UCLA
2003 Jon Kitna Cincinnati Bengals Central Washington
2004 Willis McGahee Buffalo Bills Running back Miami
2005 Steve Smith Carolina Panthers Wide receiver Utah
2006 Chad Pennington New York Jets Quarterback Marshall
2007 Randy Moss New England Patriots Wide receiver Marshall
2008 Chad Pennington (2) Miami Dolphins Quarterback Marshall
2009 Tom Brady New England Patriots Michigan
2010 Michael Vick Philadelphia Eagles Virginia Tech
2011 Matthew Stafford Detroit Lions Georgia
2012 Peyton Manning Denver Broncos Tennessee
2013 Philip Rivers San Diego Chargers NC State
2014 Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots Tight end Arizona
2015 Eric Berry Kansas City Chiefs Safety Tennessee
2016 Jordy Nelson Green Bay Packers Wide receiver Kansas State
2017 Keenan Allen Los Angeles Chargers California
2018 Andrew Luck Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Stanford
2019 Ryan Tannehill Tennessee Titans Texas A&M
2020 Alex Smith Washington Football Team Utah
2021 Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals LSU
2022 Geno Smith Seattle Seahawks West Virginia
2023 Damar Hamlin Buffalo Bills Safety Pittsburgh

UPI Comeback Player of the Year award (1962–1969)

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In 1962, United Press International (UPI) chose a comeback player for the first time. The winner, Frank Gifford, had made a comeback from a devastating injury from a hit by Chuck Bednarik. The following year, the Associated Press (AP) established a similar award. UPI discontinued the award after 1963, with the exception of 1969. The AP did not give out the award from 1967 to 1998, when the award was reinstituted and given to Doug Flutie.

  • 1962 Frank Gifford, WR, New York Giants[3]
  • 1963 Ed Brown, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers[4]
  • 1964–1968 No award given
  • 1969 Gale Sayers, RB, Chicago Bears

Sporting News NFL Comeback Player of the Year award

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See also

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References

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General
  • "Comeback Player of the Year". Pro Football Writers of America. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
Specific
  1. ^ "NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award". Football Almanac. Archived from the original on January 13, 2010. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  2. ^ "Comeback Player of the Year". Pro Football Writers Association. Retrieved January 26, 2024.
  3. ^ United Press International (1-04-1963).NFL Comeback-of-the-Year Award Voted to Frank Gifford of Giants Hartford Courant, Hartford CT. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  4. ^ United Press International. (12-21-1963).Steelers' Brown Comeback Winner Lodi News-Sentinel. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  5. ^ Sporting News. (January 15, 2009). SN's Comeback Player of the Year: Antonio Bryant Sporting News Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  6. ^ Sporting News. (January 14, 2010). Titans QB Vince Young voted Sporting News 2009 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Sporting News Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  7. ^ "SN 2010 NFL Comeback Player of the Year: Michael Vick". Sporting News. January 12, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
  8. ^ "Sporting News 2011 NFL awards: Plaxico Burress, Comeback Player of the Year". Sporting News. January 25, 2012. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  9. ^ "Adrian Peterson voted Sporting News' Comeback Player of the Year". Sporting News. January 22, 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  10. ^ Cash, Rana (January 28, 2014). "Can't keep Darrelle Revis down; Bucs cornerback named Sporting News' Comeback Player of the Year". Sporting News. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  11. ^ Cash, Rana (January 22, 2015). "Patriots' Rob Gronkowski named Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year". Sporting News. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  12. ^ Collins, Cory (January 12, 2016). "Cardinals' Carson Palmer named Sporting News' Comeback Player of the Year". Sporting News. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  13. ^ Marvez, Alex (January 24, 2017). "Packers' Jordy Nelson voted Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year for 2016". Sporting News. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  14. ^ Reeve Jr., Will (January 25, 2018). "Chargers WR Keenan Allen wins Sporting News' Comeback Player of the Year Award". USA Today. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  15. ^ VanTryon, Matthew (January 15, 2019). "Andrew Luck voted Sporting News comeback player of the year by NFL players". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  16. ^ Haislop, Tadd (January 9, 2019). "NFL awards: Resurgent 49ers dominate voting for Sporting News' 2019 honors". Sporting News. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  17. ^ Cadeaux, Ethan (January 21, 2021). "Alex Smith named NFL Comeback Player of the Year by Sporting News". NBC Sports. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  18. ^ "NFL awards: Cowboys, Bengals break through in voting for Sporting News' 2021 honors". www.sportingnews.com. Retrieved February 3, 2022.
  19. ^ "How Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa overcame concussions to win SN's NFL Comeback Player of the Year | Sporting News". www.sportingnews.com. February 1, 2024. Retrieved February 1, 2024.