A few days ago, Pro Football Weekly named Matthew Stafford as their Comeback Player of the Year. Stafford was a definite candidate for the award after missing most of last season and the type of stats he put up in 2011, but it wasn't a big deal to see him win it over linebacker D'Qwell Jackson.
What I am not so hot on is the fact that wide receiver Plaxico Burress was named Sporting News' Comeback Player of the Year. The year before, Michael Vick received the award. I didn't know you had to go to prison to be considered for the award. All kidding aside, while Vick did probably deserve the award last year, I don't see how Burress' 45-catch, 612-yard, 8-touchdown season stands out compared to some of the other candidates.
First off, I'm always more supportive of giving the award to someone who came back from a significant injury. Jackson was battling back from two years worth of pectoral injuries, and he managed to make it through the entire 16-game season. Not only that, but it was Jackson's best season as a pro. He led the NFL in individual tackles (116) and finished second in the league in combined tackles (158), second only to London Fletcher's 166 combined tackles. Jackson also recovered three fumbles (tied for second best in the league), and had 3.5 sacks and 1 interception.
What irks me a little bit more is the fact that Jackson didn't even finish in the top four in votes, according to the Sporting News. And this voting was supposedly conducted by Jackson's peers.
Burress received 164 votes; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith came in second with 91, followed by Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil with 46 and Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford with 42. Voting was done by NFL players, coaches and executives.
The award that really matters is the one that the Associated Press hands out. I believe they are expected to announce their Comeback Player of the Year on February 4, 2012. I don't necessarily mind if it's not Jackson who gets the honor, but I certainly don't think it should be Burress.