No player in any sport wants to win Comeback Player of the Year because that means said player either was lousy or hurt the previous season. Your favorite on that 5Dimes NFL prop for this football season is Green Bay's Jordy Nelson at +550.
The Most Nebulous Award In Sports
The NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award is easily the most nebulous award out there. There are no statistical parameters. For example, to win the Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year Award, a player can't have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the previous season. So you at least have a baseline to consider.
That's not the case for the NFL Comeback award. A player could simply be coming off a career-worst season. Or he could have been injured, missing the entire previous season or just a handful of games. I mean, one guy won the award twice in three seasons: quarterback Chad Pennington in 2006 with the New York Jets and then again in 2008 with the Miami Dolphins. So apparently you can have a great comeback year, stink/get hurt, and then have another great comeback year. It's a little ridiculous in all honesty.
Defensive players rarely win this award because they usually don't put up eye-popping stats. And voters pretty much only go on statistics because they can't see a player in every game. It's writers from all around the country. That said, Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry, the first defensive winner since Cowboys linebacker Greg Ellis in 2007, was very deserving in 2015 as he earned his fourth Pro Bowl selection and second first-team All-Pro honor.
Berry was limited to six games in 2014 as he dealt with Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was one of the NFL's best defensive players regardless of position in 2015 in playing all 16 games and recording 61 tackles, two interceptions and 10 passes defensed. He was the heart-and-soul of a Kansas City defense that carried the club to an unprecedented 10-game winning streak after a 1-5 start. The Chiefs allowed 20 points or more just twice in that run in earning a playoff spot. And in that wild-card game in Houston, the Kansas City defense threw a shutout and forced five turnovers. Berry was the first defensive back to win the award.
Are Nelson, Charles Fully Healthy?
The Packers' Nelson is a deserving favorite at +550 with 5Dimes as he tore his ACL in the 2015 preseason and was done for the year. In 2014, Nelson was an All-Pro in catching 98 passes for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Green Bay offense led the league in scoring that year and QB Aaron Rodgers was the league MVP. Without Nelson, that unit slipped to 15th in scoring and Rodgers had arguably his worst full season statistically. Nelson's ACL tear is healed but he had some trouble with the other knee in training camp from favoring it during rehab. Nelson only recently started practicing in full, but he will be in there for Week 1 in Jacksonville. No Packer has won this award.
Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell, another possible NLF pick, is the +600 second-favorite at 5Dimes. He was the NFL's best all-around running back in 2014 but limited to six games in 2015 due to suspension/injury. Bell also will be suspended the first three games this season so that might hurt his chances for this award.
Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles is +615 and Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck at +650. When Charles went down with a torn ACL in the Chiefs' fifth game last year, everyone thought that team was dead in the water. But Berry and Co. led that incredible turnaround. My worry about Charles here is that he's reportedly still not 100 percent and isn't considered the true featured back yet. In fact, he might not play Week 1 vs. San Diego.
The Colts went 11-5 and made the playoffs in each of Luck's first three seasons in the NFL and were one of the AFC betting favorites entering 2015. They slipped to 8-8 with Luck limited to seven games and struggling in those seven with 12 interceptions and a rating of 74.9. Luck is healthy now and was made the highest-paid player in the NFL this summer.
Two interesting choices on NFL odds are Cowboys QB Tony Romo at +900 and Browns QB Robert Griffin III at +2000. Romo would have been a great choice, in my opinion, before fracturing a vertebra in his back in the Cowboys' third preseason game. Now it's not clear when Romo will return, but he's going to miss at least four games most likely.
RGII was, of course, the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year with Washington but his star fell quickly and he didn't play a down last regular season as Washington's third-string QB. RGIII will start Week 1 for the Browns, however. If he can lead a bad Cleveland team to even six wins and play the whole season, RGIII probably wins the award.
NFL Free Pick
Quarterbacks usually win this award, doing so about half the time since it debuted in 1963. I root for Griffin, but I doubt he stays healthy and the Browns are going to stink. So Luck is the choice, as if healthy he should put up MVP-type numbers and lead the Colts back to the playoffs.