The NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award has been given out after every season since 1972 (except for 1985) by Pro Football Weekly. The player named Comeback Player of the Year shows perseverance in overcoming adversity, in the form of not being in the NFL the previous year, a severe injury, or simply poor performance.[citation needed] Beginning in 1992 the Pro Football Writers of America and Pro Football Weekly combined for their awards, including the comeback player of the year, and it continues to this day.

In 1962 the United Press International chose a comeback player for the first time, the winner Frank Gifford, had made a comeback from a devastating injury from a hit by Chuck Bednarik. The following year, 1963, the Associated Press instituted a similar award. UPI discontinued the award after 1963 with the exception of 1969 and the Associated Press did not give out the award from 1967 to 1998, when the award was re-instituted and given to Doug Flutie.

Professional Football Writers of America/Pro Football Weekly winners

(Prior to 1992, all awards were selected by PFW only)[1]

Season Player Team Position College
1972 Earl Morrall Miami Dolphins Quarterback Michigan State
1973 Roman Gabriel Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback North Carolina State
1974 Joe Namath New York Jets Quarterback Alabama
1975 Dave Hampton Atlanta Falcons Running back Wyoming
1976 Greg Landry Detroit Lions Quarterback Massachusetts
1977 Craig Morton Denver Broncos Quarterback California
1978 John Riggins Washington Redskins Running back Kansas
1979 Larry Csonka Miami Dolphins Fullback Syracuse
1980 Jim Plunkett Oakland Raiders Quarterback Stanford
1981 Ken Anderson Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback Augustana
1982 Lyle Alzado Los Angeles Raiders Defensive end Yankton
1983 Billy Johnson Atlanta Falcons Wide receiver Widener
1984 John Stallworth Pittsburgh Steelers Wide receiver Alabama A&M
1985 No Award
1986 Joe Montana
Tommy Kramer
San Francisco 49ers
Minnesota Vikings
Notre Dame
1987 Charles White Los Angeles Rams Running back USC
1988 Greg Bell Los Angeles Rams Running back Notre Dame
1989 Ottis Anderson New York Giants Running back Miami
1990 Barry Word Kansas City Chiefs Running back Virginia
1991 Jim McMahon Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Brigham Young
1992 Randall Cunningham Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback UNLV
1993 Marcus Allen Kansas City Chiefs Running back USC
1994 Dan Marino Miami Dolphins Quarterback Pittsburgh
1995 Jim Harbaugh
Garrison Hearst
Indianapolis Colts
Arizona Cardinals
Running Back
1996 Jerome Bettis Pittsburgh Steelers Running back Notre Dame
1997 Robert Brooks Green Bay Packers Wide receiver South Carolina
1998 Doug Flutie Buffalo Bills Quarterback Boston College
1999 Bryant Young San Francisco 49ers Defensive Tackle Notre Dame
2000 Joe Johnson New Orleans Saints Defensive End Louisville
2001 Garrison Hearst San Francisco 49ers Running Back Georgia
2002 Tommy Maddox Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback UCLA
2003 Jon Kitna Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback Central Washington
2004 Willis McGahee Buffalo Bills Running Back Miami, FL
2005 Steve Smith
Tedy Bruschi
Carolina Panthers
New England Patriots
Wide receiver
University of Utah
2006 Chad Pennington New York Jets Quarterback Marshall
2007 Greg Ellis Dallas Cowboys Defensive End North Carolina
2008 Chad Pennington Miami Dolphins Quarterback Marshall
2009 Tom Brady New England Patriots Quarterback Michigan
2010 Michael Vick Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Virginia Tech
2011 Matthew Stafford Detroit Lions Quarterback Georgia

United Press International Winners

  • 1962 Frank Gifford, WR, New York Giants [2]
  • 1963 Ed Brown, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers [3]
  • 1964-1968 No award given
  • 1969 Gale Sayers, RB, Chicago Bears [4]

Associated Press winners

Sporting News winners


  1. PFWA winners Pro Football Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  2. United Press International (1-04-1963).NFL Comeback-of-the-Year Award Voted to Frank Gifford of Giants Hartford Courant, Hartford CT. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  3. United Press International. (12-21-1963).Steelers' Brown Comeback Winner Lodi News-Sentinel. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  4. United Press International. (12-24-1969). Stellino, Vito. Bear's Sayers Comeback Winner UPI. Retrieved 12-28-2010.
  5. Associated Press. (12-14-1963). "Colt Placekicker; Goldbricker Martin Named Info's Ton Comeback" Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  6. Associated Press. (1-03-1964). Lowe of Chargers Claims He's Ready For Pat's Defense Hartford Courant, Hartford, CT. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  7. Associated Press. (12-14-1964). Shula, Unitas Honored as Top Coach, Player Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  8. Associated Press. (12-17-1964) Haynes Cited for Comeback New York Times. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  9. Associated Press. (12-24-1965)Brown Is Named Player of Year; In Other Words, Most Valuable New York Times. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  10. Associated Press. (12-17-1965). Lowe Named Comeback Player of the Year. The Gettysburg Times, PA. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  11. Associated Press. (12-17-1966). RAMS' BASS NAMED NFL'S COMEBACK PLAYER OF YEAR Los Angeles Times. Reference 12-20-2009.
  12. Associated Press. (12-24-1966). BURNETT, PARILLI WIN A.F.L. AWARDS; Named to Rookie of Year and Comeback Honors New York Times. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  13. Associated Press. (1-08-1999) Flutie wins inaugural comeback player honor The Sun - Baltimore, Md. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  14. Associated Press. (1-07-2000).BRYANT YOUNG IS COMEBACK PLAYER OF YEAR Chicago Tribune - Chicago, Ill. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  15. Associated Press. (12-28-2000). Johnson is NFL Comeback Player of Year Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  16. Associated Press. (1-11-2002). Garrison Hearst wins Comeback Player of the Year award San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, CA). Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  17. Associated Press. (1-02-2003). Maddox is NFL Comeback Player of Year Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  18. Wilner, Barry. (1-02-2004) Kitna edges Carter, Brown for AP Comeback Player honor USA Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  19. Associated Press. (1-10-2005). Brees is NFL comeback player of year Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  20. Curran, Tom. (01-06-2006). Pats' Bruschi shares Comeback Player award Providence Journal, Providence, RI. Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  21. Associated Press. (1-04-2007)Pennington named Comeback Player of the Year Monsters and Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  22. Bensch, Bob. (1-12-2008). Cowboys' Greg Ellis Named NFL's Comeback Player of the Year Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  23. Holder, Stephen. (1-01-2009) Miami Dolphins QB Chad Pennington truly is comeback player of the year St. Petersburg Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  24. Wilner, Barry (2010-01-06). "Brady named Comeback Player of the Year". Associated Press. NBC Sports. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
  25. Sporting News. (January 15, 2009). SN's Comeback Player of the Year: Antonio Bryant Sporting Retrieved 12-20-2009.
  26. Sporting News. (January 14, 2010). Titans QB Vince Young voted Sporting News 2009 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Sporting Retrieved 12-20-2009.</

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