Heading into Week 14, it’s time we take a look back on the NFL season so far and begin the debate of who this year’s NFL Comeback Player of the Year is. The NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award has been given out after every season since 1972 (except for 1985). The recipient of this award either missed an entire season, suffered a serious injury, or just plain sucked in the previous season. Last year’s winner, Matthew Stafford, received 21 out of 50 possible votes finishing 6 votes ahead of the runner-up. This year should be much closer in what is basically a 2 horse race: Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson. I’ll plead my case for both players after the jump.
Why Peyton Manning Should be Comeback Player of the Year
2011 Stats: DNP- Recovering from injury
2012 Stats: 12 games, Passer Rating: 104.6, Yards/Game: 291.8, TDs: 29, INTs: 9
Peyton Manning missed the entire 2011 season while recovering from multiple neck surgeries and nerve issues. Without him, the Indianapolis Colts went from 10-6 in 2010 to a miserable 2-14 in 2011. Some people (myself included) were calling for Manning to be named the 2011 NFL MVP without ever playing a down, as he clearly was the most important player on his team (if not the league).
So far this season, Peyton Manning has been exceptional. While some say his arm strength is lacking, his pin-point accuracy and decision-making has helped lead the Denver Broncos to a 9-3 start which already clinches the AFC West Division title. Manning would be a unanimous decision for Comeback Player of the Year if it weren’t for Adrian Peterson.
Pros: #1 Overall QBR, #2 Overall Passer Rating, #2 Overall TD Passes, #8 Overall Passing Yards, Clinched Division Title
Cons: None statistically. Had his choice of team after being released by Indianapolis, Adrian Peterson only player who could take this award from him.
Why Adrian Peterson Should be Comeback Player of the Year
2011 Stats: 12 Games Played, Total Yards: 1109, TDs: 13, tore ACL & MCL Week 16
2012 Stats: 12 Games Played, Total Yards: 1641, TDs: 8, Fum Lost: 2
Adrian Peterson suffered an ankle injury in Week 11 of the 2011 season which caused him to miss the next 3 weeks. He came back in Week 15, only to tear his ACL and MCL in Week 16. Read that last sentence again and take a look at the 2012 stats above. Adrian Peterson pretty much obliterated his knee in Week 16 of the previous season and currently leads the league in rushing. He must be a cyborg or something. That is not human.
The typical recovery time for such an injury is 6 to 9 months. You’d think someone coming off such an injury would miss the majority of the following season, if not the entire year. Adrian Peterson was good to go in Week 1. Not only was he ready, he began racking up yards and highlight plays almost immediately. There’s no doubt about it, Adrian Peterson is a freak of nature.
Pros:#1 Overall Rushing by 300+ yards, #1 Overall Total Yards, #4 RB TDs
Cons: None statistically. Minnesota is 6-6 and likely to miss the playoffs. Peyton Manning also having an incredible season.
While Peyton Manning will likely win the award after leading Denver to a Division Title, I truly believe Adrian Peterson deserves it. While athletes have recovered from knee injuries to be productive once again, no one has done so faster than Adrian Peterson and in such fashion. Peterson plays on an inferior team but continues to put up monster numbers week after week. Even though he probably won’t win the award, AP is TSB’s NFL 2012 Comeback Player of the Year.