Adrian Peterson, Not Peyton Manning, Deserves Comeback Player of the Year Award

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IDecember 7, 2012

Nov 11, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) smiles following the game against the Detroit Lions at the Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Lions 34-24. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Peterson has made the best case to win the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award—sorry, Peyton Manning.

Both superstars have returned from significant injuries to piece together amazingly productive seasons at a time in their careers when skepticism has surrounded them more than ever. 

After involving myself in timeline-bombarding debates on Twitter, I've realized that Manning, the quarterback for the now 10-3 Denver Broncos, will likely win the award, but I haven't wavered in my staunch support of the Minnesota Vikings' running back.

Here's why.

To put it succinctly, the debate dwindles down to one's definition of "comeback" in a football sense. 

On December 24, 2011, Peterson completely shredded his knee when he tore his ACL and MCL against the Washington Redskins—that's what he's coming back from. 

Manning had neck fusion surgery to alleviate weakness in his neck and arm that he was playing with during the 2010 season. Later, it was learned that Manning ultimately had four neck procedures, which forced him to sit out the entire 2011 season. 

Now, because I have no medical background, I can't tell you which injury was more debilitating.

However, hasn't Peterson's specific rehabilitation process been tested more often in 2012?

I'd say so. 

In fact, that point can't even be argued, can it?

Let's face it—Peterson's leg is his wheel and also the marked body part every defender is after when attempting to take him to the turf. 

For Manning, his tools of trade are his arm, wrist and hand, none of which were particularly involved in his season-ending medical issue and they certainly haven't been jeopardized on every drop back.

This isn't meant to take away from Manning's current accomplishments relative to his physical woes—playing at an All-Pro level after multiple neck surgeries and a full year on the sidelines is remarkable.

But has it been more remarkable than a running back leading the NFL in rushing, averaging over six yards per carry and 120.5 yards per game less than a year removed from a completely blown knee?

No way.

Remember, Peterson is on pace for the best statistical season of his career, and the supposedly rebuilding Vikings are in the thick of the NFC playoff race.

Do both players deserve this award based on the odds they've overcome? 


But if only one is to be named, Adrian Peterson is the more worthy candidate.