Why Matt Stafford's Comeback Player of the Year Award Was Complete Garbage

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystFebruary 4, 2012

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 20: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions warms up prior to the start of the game against the Carolina Panthers at Ford Field on November 20, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

First off, before Detroit Lions fans go running en masse to grab the pitchforks and torches, I have nothing against quarterback Matthew Stafford, who enjoyed a fantastic season, topping 5,000 passing yards and 40 touchdown passes while leading the Lions to their first playoff berth since 1899 (one of those numbers may be wrong).

However, for a 23-year-old third-year player to be named the 2011 Associated Press NFL Comeback Player of the Year is a farce and just one more reason why we might as well change the name of all these awards to the "201X NFL Whatever Quarterback of the Year Sponsored by Triscuit," as this award has now been won four times in a row by, wait for it...

A quarterback.

First, so far as Stafford, come back from what? He's only been playing three years!

Yes, he rebounded from two injury-shortened seasons for a great statistical season, but he's only been in the league three years!

Last year's winner, Michael Vick, had been out of football for almost as long as Stafford's been in it before resurrecting his career in Philadelphia, so it was certainly understandable that he'd be a shoo-in after posting gaudy numbers in 2010.

In 2008, Miami signal-caller Chad Pennington was considered by many a noodle-armed 32-year-old has-been, so after shockingly posting a career season and, even more surprisingly, leading the Dolphins to the postseason, it made perfect sense to name him the Comeback Player of the Year.

This year there were such deserving candidates as Cleveland Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who, after losing most of the past two seasons (including all of 2010) to injury, returned to become the second-leading tackler in the entire league. Jackson finished second in voting.

Or perhaps Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Laurent Robinson, a fifth-year veteran who was cast off by the St. Louis Rams before landing in Big D and exploding for career highs across the board, including 11 touchdown catches?

What about San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith, a seventh-year pro who had by far the best statistical season of his career while leading the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game?

Or, if we're going to start giving the award to puppies, what about New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who reeled in 82 passes for over 1,500 yards after catching nary a pass his rookie year?

That's a comeback too, right?

No, it's not, and that's partly my point.

This "award" feels a lot less like a reward to the most deserving comeback player in 2011, than it does another attempt at rewarding football's glory position (Stafford is the ninth quarterback to win the award since its inception in 1998). That's not what the award is supposed to be about.

Stay tuned folks, still a few more quarterbacks with trophies to win tonight.

Starting to wonder if any other position players should even show up at the NFL Honors.