National Football League Comeback Player of the Year Award

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 has shown perseverance in overcoming adversity, 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 Weekly/Pro Football Writers Association (PFW/PFWA), Sporting News, and United Press International (UPI).

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

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

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 1992–2012.[30]

1972Earl MorrallMiami DolphinsQuarterback
1973Roman GabrielPhiladelphia EaglesQuarterback
1974Joe NamathNew York JetsQuarterback
1975Dave HamptonAtlanta FalconsRunning back
1976Greg LandryDetroit LionsQuarterback
1977Craig MortonDenver BroncosQuarterback
1978John RigginsWashington RedskinsRunning back
1979Larry CsonkaMiami DolphinsFullback
1980Jim PlunkettOakland RaidersQuarterback
1981Ken AndersonCincinnati BengalsQuarterback
1982Lyle AlzadoLos Angeles RaidersDefensive end
1983Billy JohnsonAtlanta FalconsWide receiver
1984John StallworthPittsburgh SteelersWide receiver
1985No Award
1986Joe Montana
Tommy Kramer
San Francisco 49ers
Minnesota Vikings
1987Charles WhiteLos Angeles RamsRunning back
1988Greg BellLos Angeles RamsRunning back
1989Ottis AndersonNew York GiantsRunning back
1990Barry WordKansas City ChiefsRunning back
1991Jim McMahonPhiladelphia EaglesQuarterback
1992Randall CunninghamPhiladelphia EaglesQuarterback
1993Marcus AllenKansas City ChiefsRunning back
1994Dan MarinoMiami DolphinsQuarterback
1995Jim HarbaughIndianapolis ColtsQuarterback
1996Jerome BettisPittsburgh SteelersRunning back
1997Robert BrooksGreen Bay PackersWide receiver
1998Doug FlutieBuffalo BillsQuarterback
1999Bryant YoungSan Francisco 49ersDefensive tackle
2000Joe JohnsonNew Orleans SaintsDefensive end
2001Garrison HearstSan Francisco 49ersRunning back
2002Tommy MaddoxPittsburgh SteelersQuarterback
2003Jon KitnaCincinnati BengalsQuarterback
2004Willis McGaheeBuffalo BillsRunning back
2005Steve SmithCarolina PanthersWide receiver
2006Chad PenningtonNew York JetsQuarterback
2007Randy MossNew England PatriotsWide receiver
2008Chad Pennington (2)Miami DolphinsQuarterback
2009Tom BradyNew England PatriotsQuarterback
2010Michael VickPhiladelphia EaglesQuarterback
2011Matthew StaffordDetroit LionsQuarterback
2012Adrian PetersonMinnesota VikingsRunning back
2013Philip RiversSan Diego ChargersQuarterback
2014Rob GronkowskiNew England PatriotsTight end
2015Eric BerryKansas City ChiefsSafety
2016Jordy NelsonGreen Bay PackersWide receiver
2017Keenan AllenLos Angeles ChargersWide receiver

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

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[31]
  • 1963 Ed Brown, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers[32]
  • 1964–1968 No award given
  • 1969 Gale Sayers, RB, Chicago Bears

Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year award


  1. "NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award". Football Almanac.
  2. Associated Press. (12-14-1963). "Colt Placekicker; Goldbricker Martin Named Info's Ton Comeback" Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  3. Associated Press. (1-03-1964). Lowe of Chargers Claims He's Ready For Pat's Defense Hartford Courant, Hartford, Connecticut. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  4. Associated Press. (12-14-1964). Shula, Unitas Honored as Top Coach, Player Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  5. Associated Press. (12-17-1964) Haynes Cited for Comeback New York Times. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  6. Associated Press. (12-24-1965)Brown Is Named Player of Year; In Other Words, Most Valuable New York Times. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  7. Associated Press. (12-17-1965). Lowe Named Comeback Player of the Year. The Gettysburg Times, Pennsylvania. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  8. Associated Press. (12-17-1966). RAMS' BASS NAMED NFL'S COMEBACK PLAYER OF YEAR Los Angeles Times. Reference 12-20-2009.
  9. Associated Press. (12-24-1966). BURNETT, PARILLI WIN A.F.L. AWARDS; Named to Rookie of Year and Comeback Honors New York Times. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  10. Associated Press. (1-08-1999) Flutie wins inaugural comeback player honor The Sun – Baltimore Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  11. Associated Press. (1-07-2000).BRYANT YOUNG IS COMEBACK PLAYER OF YEAR Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  12. Associated Press. (12-28-2000). Johnson is NFL Comeback Player of Year Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  13. Associated Press. (1-11-2002). Garrison Hearst wins Comeback Player of the Year award San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, California). Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  14. Associated Press. (1-02-2003). Maddox is NFL Comeback Player of Year Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  15. Wilner, Barry. (1-02-2004) Kitna edges Carter, Brown for AP Comeback Player honor USA Today. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  16. Associated Press. (1-10-2005). Brees is NFL comeback player of year Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  17. 1 2 Curran, Tom (6 January 2006). "Pats' Bruschi shares Comeback Player award". The Providence Journal. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  18. Associated Press. (1-04-2007) Pennington named Comeback Player of the Year Monsters and Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  19. Bensch, Bob. (1-12-2008). Cowboys' Greg Ellis Named NFL's Comeback Player of the Year Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  20. Holder, Stephen. (1-01-2009) Miami Dolphins QB Chad Pennington truly is comeback player of the year St. Petersburg Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  21. Wilner, Barry (2010-01-06). "Brady named Comeback Player of the Year". NBC Sports. Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
  22. "Michael Vick wins Comeback POY". Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  23. "Lions QB Stafford wins Comeback Player of Year". Fox News. 4 February 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  24. "Peyton Manning wins Comeback Player of the Year". Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  25. Henne, Ricky (February 1, 2014). "Philip Rivers Named NFL Comeback Player of Year".
  26. Rosenthal, Gregg (January 31, 2015). "Rob Gronkowski wins Comeback Player of the Year".
  27. Sessler, Marc (February 6, 2016). "Eric Berry named NFL's Comeback Player of the Year".
  28. Orr, Conor (February 4, 2017). "Jordy Nelson named NFL's Comeback Player of the Year".
  29. Shook, Nick (February 3, 2018). "Keenan Allen named NFL Comeback Player of Year".
  30. "Comeback Player of the Year". Pro Football Writers Association. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  31. 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.
  32. United Press International. (12-21-1963).Steelers' Brown Comeback Winner Lodi News-Sentinel. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  33. Sporting News. (January 15, 2009). SN's Comeback Player of the Year: Antonio Bryant Sporting Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  34. Sporting News. (January 14, 2010). Titans QB Vince Young voted Sporting News 2009 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Sporting Retrieved 12-20-2009.</
  35. "SN 2010 NFL Comeback Player of the Year: Michael Vick". Sporting News. 12 January 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  36. "Sporting News 2011 NFL awards: Plaxico Burress, Comeback Player of the Year". January 25, 2012. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  37. "Adrian Peterson voted Sporting News' Comeback Player of the Year". January 22, 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  38. "Can't keep Darrelle Revis down; Bucs cornerback named Sporting News' Comeback Player of the Year". Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  39. "Sporting News NFL awards 2015: Players of the year, All-Pro team, more". SportingNews.
  40. "Packers' Jordy Nelson voted Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year for 2016".
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