Mike Klis of The Denver Post broke the news:
Peyton Manning wins NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Adrian Peterson is second.— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) February 3, 2013
Manning's comeback story is truly outstanding, as it was speculated he would likely never play again a mere year ago (h/t Yahoo!). He narrowly edged out Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, who ran for over 2,000 yards despite blowing out his knee during Week 16 in 2011.
The 36-year-old veteran is the fifth consecutive quarterback to take home this accolade.
As a player who hadn't missed a start in his entire career, it was clear that the four neck surgeries that kept him out for the entire 2011 season with the Indianapolis Colts were extremely severe.
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That led to the Colts struggling mightily, but netting the No. 1 overall pick in the process. New GM Ryan Grigson used it to make the no-brainer selection of Stanford QB Andrew Luck. However, that signaled the end of an era in Indianapolis, as Manning was cut on March 7—over a month and a half prior to draft day.
With questions looming as to how Manning would respond in his return this past season, the Broncos were certainly taking a bold risk in signing him to a lucrative, four-year contract. But obviously, the perceptibly risky investment paid off in a big way.
Manning's arrival forced Tim Tebow out of Denver, and the Broncos' offense operated as a well-balanced, high octane machine in 2012.
Not only did Manning elevate the play of dynamic third-year receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, but he also brought along key former teammates in Brandon Stokley and Jacob Tamme with him.
That led to an exceptional 14th NFL campaign for Manning, as he ranked second in the league with a 105.8 passer rating and tied for the lead among starters with a 68.6 completion rate. He also threw for 4,659 yards, 37 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions.
Although the Broncos unfortunately bowed out of the playoffs in the divisional round as the No. 1 seed, they did lose to the Baltimore Ravens, who are representing the AFC in the Super Bowl.
As the nerve damage continues to improve and Manning gets even stronger, expect him and the Broncos to be contenders in 2013 as well.