The 2012 NFL season has been chock-full of incredible stories and impressive performances, ranging from rookies, to veterans, to players returning from injury.
Each season, one player stands out as an individual who defied all odds, coming back from a poor season or a major injury to post stellar numbers and win the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year Award.
This year, the NFL has two clear winners in that category: Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning.
But who deserves the win the award?
To answer that question, let’s dive a little deeper, shall we?
It was Christmas Eve last season when Adrian Peterson left a game against the Washington Redskins and was later diagnosed with an ACL tear. A severe knee injury is more devastating for a running back, but Peterson worked his way back and defied all odds by not only playing Week 1, but also scoring two touchdowns in that game. By now, everyone knows just how stellar Peterson’s performance has been this season, almost single-handedly pushing the Minnesota Vikings to a possible playoff berth. Heading into the final week of the regular season, Peterson is 102 yards shy of the 2,000-yard mark.
Meanwhile, Peyton Manning missed the 2011 season and went through three or four neck surgeries, depending on which report you read. Many argued that Manning was facing a possible career-ending injury, likely to never play another down on a football field ever again.
As a result, the Indianapolis Colts – sitting with the top pick in the 2012 NFL Draft – moved on and drafted Andrew Luck. Manning recovered, eventually signed with the Denver Broncos and heading into Week 17, he has thrown for 4,355 yards, with a 103.7 quarterback rating, 34 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Clearly, from both a statistical and recovery standpoint, each of the two stars has been very impressive. If you also look at both Minnesota and Denver’s overall performance, one could argue that both Peterson and Manning have been pivotal to his team’s overall success.
The Broncos are 12-3 – winners of ten straight games – and currently fighting for a first round bye, while also still having a shot at the AFC’s top overall seed. The Vikings are 9-6 and currently sitting in the sixth playoff position in the NFC.
Both Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning is deserving of this award and during any other season, either would wind up as the runaway winner.
But while Adrian Peterson has had a very impressive and speedy recovery from ACL surgery, it can’t be ignored that Peyton Manning was thought by many to have suffered a career-ending neck injury. A major knee injury isn’t a cake walk to come back from either – especially for a running back – but Manning was in a situation where many assumed he wouldn’t be able to throw with the same velocity, or even set foot on a football field. On top of that, Peyton Manning didn’t complete one pass during the 2011 season and is now arguably right in the thick of the 2012 NFL Most Valuable Player discussion.
Adrian Peterson may just rush for 2,000 yards this season, but the winner of the 2012 Comeback of the Year Award should be Peyton Manning.
The question remains, do you feel the same way?