The AP NFL Comeback Player Of The Year 2020/2021 - Predictions and Betting Odds
Every year there are multiple ongoing tales of NFL players overcoming adversity, and at the end of each NFL season, the Associated Press (AP) awards the most outstanding Comeback Player of the Year.
In a league filled with so many season-ending injuries, it is incredible every time you get to watch a player battle back from some horrible rip or tear or break and subsequent surgery and get healthy enough to be productive on the gridiron again.
For other players, it’s being able to come back after playing horribly for a season and re-establish their dominance, but however they might earn the honor, we take a look at and briefly analyze the top ten most likely candidates to be the 2020 AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year Odds
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Ben Roethlisberger (+300)
After suffering a season-ending non-contact injury to the elbow of this throwing arm last year in Week 2, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback “Big” Ben Roethlisberger underwent surgery and subsequent rehabilitation and is said to be ready to start under center come September.
That is good news for a Steelers team that ended the 2019 regular season with an 8-8 record and no playoff appearance, a difficult result to accept given the talent level of the young team and its coaching staff, though a clear indication of how important Roethlisberger is as a team leader and talent on the field.
For Roethlisberger to earn this CBPOY award in 2020, he would have to take his Steelers to the playoffs and beyond (meaning at least to the AFC Championship game) solidifying a comeback that will have affected his team’s success significantly.
Rob Gronkowski (+1000)
It didn’t take long after it was announced that GOAT quarterback Tom Brady had signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to play for the next two years (at least) for future Hall-of-Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski to snap out of his brief retirement and join his old friend and mentor for yet another Super Bowl run, this time from the NFC side.
The “Gronk” was so banged up after the Patriots’ Super Bowl win in 2018 that he told the press there was no way he could imagine playing another season of professional football, especially at the level (and seriousness) that was expected from his then-head coach Bill Belichick, an energy and pace that Gronkowski found way less than appealing in the long run.
It will be fun to watch him reconnect with the QB who knew exactly how to put the ball on his numbers regardless of the route or improvisation that was taking place, and if Gronkowski can stay healthy for the regular season, few fans doubt that he and his friend the GOAT will get to post some more playoff stats for the history books.
Alex Smith (+300)
Take a look at the Washington Redskins official offseason roster right now and their third backup quarterback is listed as Alex Smith, the forgotten athlete with enough talent to start on most NFL franchises but whose career has been interrupted by serious season ending injuries.
Veteran Smith lost the 2008 season to a shoulder injury and more recently lost almost half the 2018 season and all of the 2019 season due to a spiral compound fracture to the tibia and fibula in his right leg after a rough sack by Houston Texans Kareem Jackson and J.J. Watt, so for him to play any football at all would be as close to a football miracle as you can get.
But for Smith to win the CBPOY Award this season, not only would he have to replace starter Dwayne Haskins and his two backups, he would also have to fit in so nicely with the team that he can turn them into winners that actually play football in January, something the team has not done since the 2015 season.
Matthew Stafford (+800)
The Detroit Lions missed the playoffs last year for the third season in a row, and a big reason for that was the fact that they were missing their starting quarterback Matthew Stafford at the end of 2019 due to a season-ending injury, or more specifically “non-displaced fractures in his upper thoracic spine.”
The Lions have not been good for a while, the team making the playoffs in only three of the last twenty seasons of NFL football, but Stafford has been relatively good despite that, as well as a consistent presence under center, holding a streak of 136 consecutive regular-season starts right up until his injury.
For Stafford to earn the CBPOY in 2020, he would not only have to return healthy enough to play at a high level, he would have to prove his importance as a team leader, and figure out a way to turn the offensive talent the team actually does have (receivers Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola, tight ends Jesse James and TJ Hockenson and running backs Kerryon Johnson and rookie D’Andre Swift) into postseason winners.
JJ Watt (+800)
The Houston Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt has been battling serious injuries for a while now, the latest one being a season-ending pectoral tear he suffered in Week 8 against the (then Oakland) Raiders, forcing him onto the injured reserve list once again.
Though Watt was able to rehabilitate his damaged pectoral muscle and make a return in time to sack the Buffalo Bills young quarterback Josh Allen in the Texans Wild Card overtime win, his name doesn’t show up on the scorecard during the team’s Divisional Playoffs loss to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 31-51, his effective pass rush obviously sorely missed.
The Texans can get to the postseason without J.J. Watt, perhaps, but they most likely can’t win a Super Bowl with him nursing injuries on the sidelines, so for him to win the CBPOY award in 2020, he would have to carry Houston on his back further into the postseason than they’ve been in a while.
What is the AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award?
At the end of each NFL season, there are several organizations (AP, Pro Football Weekly / Pro Football Writers Association, Sporting News and United Press International) that award a player who has “shown perseverance in overcoming adversity”, but the most prestigious one is from the Associated Press (AP).
Whether that player has been out of the league due to a severe injury or suspension or is simply trying to follow up a season of poor play, the CBPOY is given to whichever man’s perseverance and return to the game outshines the others.
The first time the AP CBPOY award was given was in 1963, when two were handed out, one to the Baltimore Colts’ placekicker Jim Martin who returned to the game after coaching for a year and the other to San Diego Chargers’ running back Paul Lowe, who received the award once again in 1965.
There were no AP CBPOY Awards given out for the 1967 through 1997 seasons.
What Position Does the Award Winner Typically Play?
In the history of the AP NFL CBPOY Award, it has been given to 31 players in all.
There have been fifteen quarterback recipients, six running backs, three wide receivers and two linebackers, plus one kicker, defensive tackle, defensive end, a tight end, and a safety.
Who Won the Award Last Season?
Last year the AP CBPOY Award was given to Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
After missing the 2017 season entirely due to injury and eventually being traded by the Miami Dolphins to the Titans as a backup, Tannehill finally replaced Tennessee longtime starter Marcus Mariotta under center in Week 6 of the 2019 season.
With Tannehill as a quarterback, the Titans went 7-3 and finished the season with a 9-7 record and a second-place AFC South finish, while their postseason run took them all the way to the AFC Championship game where they were defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs (and eventual Super Bowl Champions) by a score of 24-35.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager.