Leading the race for the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year Award is Damar Hamlin, and he has garnered significant backing from Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco.
While Flacco himself has become a contender for the award due to his impressive late-season performance that propelled the Browns into the playoffs, he staunchly believes that Hamlin is the deserving recipient.
Hamlin, one of the finalists for the award, made a triumphant return to the field for the Buffalo Bills this season, albeit in a limited role. This comeback followed a cardiac arrest incident during a “Monday Night Football” game against the Bengals in the previous January. Notably, Hamlin has already clinched the Pro Football Writers of America’s version of the award for the 2023 season.
In the Associated Press award race, Hamlin faces stiff competition from other notable candidates, including Joe Flacco, Baker Mayfield of the Buccaneers, Tua Tagovailoa of the Dolphins, and Matthew Stafford of the Rams.
When questioned about Hamlin’s deservingness of the award, Flacco expressed unwavering support. He pointed to Hamlin’s mental resilience and the challenge of returning to the game after a significant health setback as reasons for his endorsement.
Flacco, who celebrated his 39th birthday on January 16, had an unconventional start to the season, being without an NFL roster spot initially. Joining the Browns’ practice squad in November due to quarterback injuries, he assumed the starting role for the team in Week 13.
Despite downplaying his own candidacy and emphasizing his return from a period of teamlessness and aging, Flacco played a pivotal role in guiding the Browns to the postseason.
On the other hand, Hamlin, serving as a starting safety for the Bills in 2022, made a notable return, featuring in five games this season and contributing with two tackles.
Reflecting on his journey, Hamlin expressed gratitude for regaining his normal life and being able to compete at the highest level in the sport he loves. As the decision on the award looms, both Hamlin and Flacco present compelling narratives for their respective comebacks, intensifying the competition.