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Fans Dismiss Damar Hamlin For Expecting To Win the Comeback Player Of the Year Award

Anushree Gupta

2 Years After Signing $3,640,476 Rookie Deal, Damar Hamlin Dropped the Moolah to Renovate His Grandma's House

Joe Flacco earned the AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year, an accolade that most believed belonged to Damar Hamlin. Even the Buffalo Bills safety, who suffered a cardiac arrest last season but reappeared on the field in 2023, thought his comeback was like none other’s. But, Hamlin had both expectations and a graceful reaction in store as the Browns’ quarterback received the accolade.

Only thirteen months down, Damar Hamlin appeared for a total of seven games for the Buffalo Bills, inclusive of two playoff games. Even Joe Flacco endorsed the Bills’ safety for his strength to bounce back shortly after. However, as the wind blew the other way, Hamlin expressed how he felt about missing out on the Comeback Player of the Year Award, on Maggie and Perloff’s radio show:

“When I heard some people were in uproar, but you know, nah. I did at first, not gonna lie. I did a little bit just because, you know, I’m a competitor myself, you know, in any competition you put me in, I [want to] win… don’t want to discredit that any and I truly feel with my journey, my comeback, per se, it wasn’t the world, it wasn’t a worldly thing. It wasn’t something that you know a trophy can define. “

Contrary to Damar Hamlin’s expectations, fans believed that his participation wasn’t enough to give him the required edge over Flacco. A few harsher comments even suggested he take his time or skip the league for an easier career path. The Associated Press’ choice of Flacco over Hamlin left others in awe.

Damar Hamlin had a cardiac arrest during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2022. However, for the voters, he stood at 151-140 in comparison to Joe Flacco, though with eight more first-place votes. Despite the final results, each finalist had their own journey to boast in a close-cut competition that had a total of eleven contenders from the leagues.

However, he received the 2023 NFLPA Alan Page Community Award for his charity work, as well as the George Halas Award, for overcoming adversity.

Comeback Stories Besides Damar Hamlin for Top Five Finalists

As presented by the fan sentiments, Damar Hamlin was the forerunner to win the award. His mere presence made him the fan favorite, but Joe Flacco took five games to claim his resurgence with the Browns. He won four out of five games for the franchise with a 60.3% completion rate and 1,616 passing yards to boot. Thanks to him, the Cleveland Browns finished 11-6 in the AFC North and also grabbed a playoff berth.

Meanwhile, others who made the finalists list were Baker Mayfield, Tua Tagovailoa, and Matthew Stafford. Amongst them, Mayfield found his home in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a long history of bouncing between different NFL teams. Though his comeback wasn’t awarded, the $100 million deal with $50 million guaranteed spoke a lot more.

Tua Tagovailoa, though not the AAP Comeback of the Year winner claimed his win at the Sporting News NFL Comeback Player of the Year. According to the platform, while many factors determine the final list, his battle through injuries in 2022, and his Jiu-Jitsu training to add techniques in absorbing contact made the cut for its voters. On the other hand, Matthew Stafford, who also made the finalist list at the AP Comeback of the Year Award, was also injury-laden in 2022. He completed 326 out of 421 passes for 3,965 yards in 15 games to grab the playoff berth for the Los Angeles Rams.

Though Joe Flacco defied the odds, each player’s battles are unique and their journeys to bounce back are easier said than done. While Damar Hamlin didn’t make the final cut, his achievement will continue to inspire players around the sports community in times to come.

About the author

Anushree Gupta

Anushree Gupta


Anushree Gupta is a Content Writer at The Sports Rush. She has immersed herself in the world of the NFL for over a year. An architect by profession, her love for football led to the transition to sports journalism. Formerly a freelancer, she lent her writing talent to various sports including golf, basketball, and baseball. In 2023, she became a part of the Sportsrush NFL Content team, channeling her passion into covering NFL news. She has now authored over 900 articles and built a close connection with the sport. She is a Philly fan with one exception on her list, Tom Brady! Make sure to follow!

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