2011 NFL Comeback Player of the Year candidate Matthew Stafford was once called a “china doll” by his teammate. Former Lions linebacker Zack Follett criticized Stafford in the summer of 2011 for going down every time he got hit.
Truthfully, Stafford’s early-career injuries were just bad luck. And he confirmed his toughness and durability by playing the 2011 season through a fractured finger and high ankle sprain.
“I just thought he showed great toughness,” CBS commentator Rich Gannon told the Detroit Free Press. “I know how important it was to him to dispel all those myths about him. … I really think that the guy is becoming a special player.”
Stafford turned a major corner in 2011, playing the first full 16-game season of his career and leading his team to the playoffs. He ranked third in the league in passing yards (5,038), third in touchdown passes (41), and second in completions of 40-plus yards (18), all while absorbing the sixth most sacks in the league (36).
The Comeback Player of the Year award will be announced on Saturday. PFT gave Stafford an honorable mention for the honors in our postseason awards picks.