When I heard that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had been named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year, I was quite surprised. For some reason his name had not even crossed my mind as a potential recipient of the award. As I thought about the topic further I decided that their where three potential schools of thought on the topic.
The first, which I immediately jumped to, was that this was another example of the nation's obsession with the NFL's most recognizable star. Another opportunity to worship the almighty Tom Terrific. Come on, lots of players suffer major injuries and many return to their previous form or better. In fact, Brady didn't even approach the numbers he put up in 2007, his last full season before the injury.
When Tom's name is in the headlines, everyone wins. The NFL for having its biggest star grabbing attention, his cult following for having another reason to adore him, and, perhaps most of all, his haters for having another reason to complain about how much everyone else loves him.
The second school of thought is that Tom Brady's 2009 season is exactly what the Comeback Player of the Year Award is all about. Brady's return from a catastrophic knee injury to lead the Patriots back to an AFC Championship is by definition a comeback.
Perhaps Tom Brady has set the standard for Comeback Player of the Year. How can anyone beat it? The NFL's most glamorous player, playing the game's most glamorous position, suffers one of the sport's most gruesome injuries, spends months recovering, returns to the field, leads team back to prominence, still finds time to become father with one of the world's most beautiful women. It reads like a Lifetime movie.
The last response to Brady being given the award blames the award itself. Does the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award lack purpose, definition, and perspective? Should the biggest star that missed a significant amount of time due to injury the previous season be handed the award if they were able to successfully return to the field?
If not, than it's not Tom Brady who should be given the award. It's players like Kurt Warner, who somehow did not earn the award following his 2007 return to glory, and Chad Pennington, last season's winner. Warner and Pennington were able to overcome the struggles they faced on the field and returned as productive as ever. That is certainly a comeback.
Whether you believe that the voters were just looking for another way to shower Tom with their affection, that the award should be renamed The Thomas Brady Comeback Player of the Year Award for future recipients, or that the award is a joke to begin with it, the topic is an interesting one that people will certainly disagree on.