Joe Flacco has won numerous awards and accolades during his 16-year NFL career. That includes being named Super Bowl MVP and ranking 18th all-time in passing yards.
But it’s safe to assume that not even Flacco, the South Jersey native and University of Delaware star, expected to win the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award Thursday night at the NFL Honors show in Las Vegas.
Flacco signed with the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 19 as a backup after starter Deshaun Watson was lost for the season with a shoulder injury. He took over as starter on Dec. 3 after an injury to Dorian Thompson-Robinson, and led the Browns to the playoffs.
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Still, even Flacco, who turned 39 in January, knows that 4-1 run to end the season wasn’t as impressive as Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin returning after nearly dying on the field in a game against the Bengals on Jan. 2, 2023.
Hamlin went into cardiac arrest after a tackle. He then spent several days in a hospital, part of that in a medically-induced coma, before a tedious rehab process that took several months.
In fact, Flacco expressed surprise that he was even considered for the award.
“I don’t necessarily know what I’m coming back from,” Flacco told CBSSports Radio host Zach Gelb in January, upon learning he was one of five finalists. “I’m just coming back from, what, being old and not being on a team for a couple months?”
Flacco ended up edging Hamlin in points 151-140 from a voting panel made up of 50 media members across print, television, radio and online digital. Hamlin, however, had many more first-place votes than Flacco. Hamlin had 21, Flacco 13.
Flacco’s season was impressive nonetheless. He had 1,616 passing yards and 13 TDs in six games, including the Brown’s loss to the Houston Texans in the AFC Wild Card Round. Those totals are both the most in NFL history by a QB who made his debut in the final six games of a season, according to NFL Research.
Flacco became the first QB in Browns history to have 300-plus passing yards in four straight games. Before that, Flacco started just 11 games from 2019-22 with the Denver Broncos and New York Jets, losing 10 of them. Flacco began the 2021 season with the Eagles, but never got into a game. He was traded back to the Jets midway through the season.
Flacco was unsigned this season until late November. He began his career when the Baltimore Ravens made him their first-round pick in 2008 out of UD. He helped the Ravens make the playoffs in each of his first six seasons.
In 2012-13, Flacco was the Super Bowl MVP as the Ravens beat the 49ers 34-31. In all, Flacco has thrown for 43,396 yards, 18th in NFL history.
Contact Martin Frank at [email protected]. Follow on X @Mfranknfl.
First appeared on www.delawareonline.com