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AP Changes Comeback Player Voting Guidance after Damar Hamlin Snub



Former Pitt safety Damar Hamlin.
Pittsburgh Panthers Damar Hamlin February 21, 2023 David Hague/PSN

The Associated Press has clarified the criteria for its NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award after several voting controversies over the last few seasons, including former Pitt and Central Catholic safety Damar Hamlin being passed over this past season after going into cardiac arrest on the field in the 2023 season.

The award criteria has now been clarified that it is meant for a player who has overcome an injury or illness. Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco won the award for the 2023 season, after coming back from being out of the league at age 38 to lead the Browns to a playoff berth. His win over Hamlin was controversial and led to the clarifications.

“The spirit of the AP Comeback Player of the Year Award is to honor a player who has demonstrated resilience in the face of adversity by overcoming illness, physical injury or other circumstances that led him to miss playing time the previous season,” the new guidance reads, according to AP senior NFL writer Rob Maaddi via Pro Football Talk.

Flacco wasn’t the only uninjured player to win the award in recent seasons. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith won the award after the 2021 season. He went from being a backup to a starter, but overcame no obvious external adversity.

“I did at first, I ain’t gonna lie, I did,” Hamlin said in April when asked if he felt he deserved the award, but said that he applauded Flacco’s victory.

“At this point in my life, it’s truly God’s plan. God had a reason for it. … I don’t want to discredit that any. I truly feel that my journey, my comeback, it wasn’t a worldly thing. It wasn’t something that a trophy can define.”

RELATED: Former Pitt S Damar Hamlin Impressing at Buffalo Bills OTAs

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Christine Niebruegge
Christine Niebruegge
1 month ago

Damar is one class act. He’s one man who has the priorities of life in the correct order. God love you Mr Hamlin ❤️

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