Peyton Manning or Adrian Peterson. Perhaps two of the best comeback seasons of all time.
Generally, we are so preoccupied with the MVP, offensive and defensive player of the year awards, that comeback player of the year garners very little attention. Generally, the top candidates for comeback player are not the top players in the league and lack the star power to pique the interest of the fans or media.
Such is not the case this season when the award will either go to arguably the greatest quarterback of all time or the greatest running back of the last five seasons.
I haven’t struggled with a decision like this since I was a teenager and I was trying to decide whom I would rather start a basketball team with, Magic Johnson or Larry Bird. Both Manning and Peterson are having mind-boggling seasons based on their recent injuries. Manning is currently third in the league in passing yardage while Peterson is first in rushing.
With Peyton you can ask the question, how many quarterbacks perform at his level at age 36?… after missing a FULL season?…after four neck surgeries?…after being cut?… after many experts said he would never be the same and that he should retire rather than run the risk of being paralyzed? Beyond his individual statistics, he is leading the Denver Broncos to one of the best records in the AFC. Good luck topping that.
But then there is Adrian Peterson. Currently averaging over a hundred and twenty rushing yards per game and 6 yards per carry. These are amazing numbers in a pass happy league. After not being sure if he would be ready for the start of the season, Peterson is on pace to have one of the best seasons ever for a running back after suffering a major knee injury that required surgery of his ACL. Kevin Seifert on ESPN.com further breaks down Peterson’s amazing comeback here: http://tinyurl.com/a6jkroj
Despite the severity of Peterson’s injury I was leaning towards Manning with my unofficial vote. I thought that missing an entire season is a better fit for the definition of “comeback” player than someone who hardly missed any action and did his recovery (miraculous as it may be) during the off-season.
But then I decided to ask myself one simple question. If I was a gambling man and right before the season started someone offered me a thousand bucks to predict what was more likely to occur during the NFL season, Manning passing for over four thousand yards or Peterson rushing for close to or maybe over two thousand? I would have paused for a moment, and said all things considered I’ve got my money on Manning. There is no way Peterson comes close to 2000 yards and threatens Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record after that injury. It’d be a great comeback if he got close to a thousand yards.
And that is what makes Adrian Peterson my comeback player of the year. Not to worry Manning fans, there is always the MVP.