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NFL's Comeback Player of the Year Award Candidates

By Chris Hunt Created: December 26, 2012 Last Updated: December 28, 2012
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Adrian Peterson leads the NFL with 1,898 rushing yards despite coming off a serious knee injury. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Adrian Peterson leads the NFL with 1,898 rushing yards despite coming off a serious knee injury. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award has several deserving candidates this season that have overcome tremendous odds off the field in order to return to action. Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, and Thomas Davis all deserve to win the award.

Manning has had a phenomenal comeback year and has helped the Denver Broncos clinch the AFC West with a 12 – 3 record through Week 16. The four-time MVP has thrown for 4,355 yards and 34 touchdowns with a passer rating of 103.7. He missed the entire 2011 season after having numerous surgeries to repair a damaged nerve in his neck. Manning’s presence in Denver has made the Broncos’ offense go and now they’re the favorite in the AFC to reach the Super Bowl this year.

Adrian Peterson has had the best season of his career, despite tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee on December 24, 2011. He has the opportunity to break the long-standing NFL single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards that has been held by Eric Dickerson since 1984. Peterson has 1,898 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns in 15 games and needs 208 yards this Sunday to eclipse Dickerson’s long-standing mark.

The Vikings currently hold a wild card seed in this year’s NFL Playoffs and Peterson has had an enormous role in the team’s success. This season the Vikings’ starting quarterback, Christian Ponder, has averaged just 5.94 yards per passing attempt—last among 34 qualifiers. Adrian Peterson has been able to average 6 yards per carry despite opposing teams consistently stacking eight of nine men in the box in an effort to stop the run.

Jamaal Charles and Thomas Davis have had incredible seasons coming off serious injuries as well. Similar to Peterson, Charles tore his ACL last season and has come back with an impressive performance in 2012. He has rushed for 1,456 yards and 5 touchdowns for the Chiefs despite the lack of offensive weapons on the Chiefs’ roster.

Thomas Davis has had three surgeries on the ACL in his right knee in the last three years, and has returned to the Panthers roster this season as a contributing member of the starting lineup. No other player in NFL history has successfully come back from three consecutive ACL injuries and Davis has provided a strong motivational and veteran presence for the Panthers. Davis has 65 tackles and 1 interception in 14 games for Carolina this season.

All four players are incredibly deserving of the Comeback Player of the Year Award, and each one has made major contributions to their teams this season. he effort, focus, and intensity it takes to comeback from such severe injuries is an excellent reminder to their teammates about how hard each athlete should work at their profession. But the performance the Adrian Peterson has been able to put on for NFL fans this year has been nothing short of miraculous. Without Peterson’s efforts the Vikings would be nowhere near making the playoffs. And to post such high rushing numbers in the “era of the quarterback” makes this feat even more impressive. Though he didn’t miss all of last season, his efforts to come back at such a high level are enough to garner this writer’s vote for Comeback Player of the Year award.

Chris Hunt is a sports writer who resides in Charlotte, N.C.

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