Who has had the most memorable NFL comeback?

AP

I don’t pay much attention to other sports, but when I do, the goal is to find a way to relate it to the NFL.

So with Tiger Woods in the midst of finally getting his golf game back on track (even though he’s tied for 29th at The Masters), an obvious question arises, which will be addressed during Friday’s PFT Live.

Which was the most memorable NFL comeback?

In lieu of a poll question, we’re leaving it open-ended; it can be a player, a coach, a team, whatever. Make your suggestions below. The best will be borrowed (stolen) for use during the show.

105 responses to “Who has had the most memorable NFL comeback?

  1. It’s one thing to hope Tiger Woods can get his personal and/or professional ish straightened out (however unlikely that may be) but his game is not back on track – unless you simply mean he can compete in a tournament. But if you’re honest with yourselves, Tiger Woods was never about simply being competitive – he was dominant.

    The man was Jordan Spieth before Jordan Spieth.

    “was” being the key word.

  2. It hasn’t happened. The most epic comeback will be RGIII winning the Superbowl as a starter for the ugh…Baltimore team when he unseats Flacco. Griffin is the best talent pound for pound since John Elway retired. The best talent easily of this generation. Shame this will all happen while playing for such a wretched franchise.

  3. In Philly, two names come to mind. First, Michael Vick, and now, Nick Foles. For Vick to go away in disgrace for an 18 month prison sentence, then sign with the Eagles was surprising enough. The fact that Andy Reid molded him into an even better player was even more incredible. Don’t have to say much about Foles. The results speak for themselves. He was a promising young QB that was discarded by Chip Kelly for a middling, oft-injured QB. Got cut by the Rams on Hard Knocks, spent a year in KC, then came to the Eagles after thinking of retiring. He was pretty much an afterthought until he was pressed into duty, then wins the Super Bowl and is crowned MVP.

  4. Kurt Warner. From NFL Reject to Grocery Store Stock Boy to Super Bowl MVP to NFL Hall of Famer. He in my opinion undoubtedly had the greatest comeback ever!

  5. Jan 3,1993, backup quarterback Frank Reich leads the Buffalo Bills to a 41-38 overtime victory over the Houston OIlers AFC wild card playoff game that will forever be known to football fans as “The Comeback.” It remains the largest comeback in NFL history.

  6. cobrala2 says:
    April 6, 2018 at 7:31 am
    It’s one thing to hope Tiger Woods can get his personal and/or professional ish straightened out (however unlikely that may be) but his game is not back on track – unless you simply mean he can compete in a tournament. But if you’re honest with yourselves, Tiger Woods was never about simply being competitive – he was dominant.

    The man was Jordan Spieth before Jordan Spieth.

    I’m not much of a golf fan but had to comment. Jordan Spieth couldn’t hold a candle to Tiger in his prime. He isn’t even the #1 ranked golfer in the world, which Tiger was for most of his career – and it wasn’t even close. Dustin Johnson holds that honor and again, he is hardly dominant. The sport lost something when Tiger lost his mind.

    As to NFL comeback stories – I like Kurt Warner. From nothing to the HoF.

  7. Jerry Rice came back to play 15 weeks after tearing an ACL, during the same calendar season, and scored a TD in the game.

  8. I must be interpreting the question differently than others. The question I thought was, who had been a dominant figure in sports, declined or disappeared and then returned being dominant. I’m seeing some great rags to riches candidates mentioned, but I don’t think that’s what Florio is asking.

  9. I can think of a few. Here’s one for starters – Joe Montana bringing the Niners back from a 35-7 halftime deficit to win 38-35. Here’s a player – Frank Gore – the serious knee injury in college (a torn ACL), and he’s very likely going to go to 4th on the all-time rushing list after 14 years in the NFL.

    Frank Reich and the Bills deservedly got a mention for that memorable pl;ayoff comeback against the Houston Oilers.

    Jim Plunkett’s career was going into obscurity at age 32 when he took the Raiders back to Super Bowl glory, even after his first action saw him throw five INTs in less than a whole game. He had been sat on the bench for over two years. Pretty impressive to me.

  10. Monday night at Dallas…Redskins down 13-0…less than 4 min to go…and facing 4th and 15…the rest is history!!!

  11. Bruschi. The guy had a stroke and made it back to the NFL. That is pretty amazing even by today’s standards. It is almost the equivalent of Ryan Shazier making it back.

  12. Ali might be a candidate. After winning the belt, he was stripped of his title and was and was absent from boxing for 4 years. Many assumed his career was over. He was reinstated in 1971 and regained the title in 1974. You could also count his unexpected win against Foreman years later.

  13. No question Kurt Warner. He came back from being dumped out of the league to win MVP and SB with Rams, then was on the scrap heap later in his career when Cardinals pick him up and he has another great act there, getting to a SB and nearly winning it.

  14. Adrian Peterson in 2012. He went from torn ACL to MVP the next season and almost set the single season rushing record.

  15. Tom Brady in Super Bowl LI. 3-28, we all know how that turned out, right, Falcon fans??

  16. I’ve never seen so many people misunderstand a question in my life. He means someone that was GREAT, then sucked, then became GREAT again. Not an individual game, not going from the practice squad to the SB. it’s comeBACK not breakthrough.

  17. Oh come on, if you’re going to venture outside of football as many have, no one holds a come back candle to Lance Armstrong.

    Dude had brain cancer and goes on to win multiple Tours.

  18. Michael Vick? not sure because he left the NFL because of the law not because he sucked. Kurt Warner? Not for the Rams run folks, that isn’t a comeback in the context of this question.

    But maybe Kurt Warner for his Cardinals run? His final days in STL and on the Giants Warner really seemed to be finished, but got things going at least for a season or so in Arizona.

    otherwise nobody. which says a lot about how tough the NFL really is to maintain a high level. because once u lost it, it’s near impossible to get it back.

  19. Rocky Bleier. He basically had his foot surgically reattached and ran for 1000 yards. I know it happened before he entered the NFL but still one hell of a comeback.

  20. Adrian Peterson after multiple knee tears, still good enough to lead the league in rushing. Bad person, but a clear HoF’er

  21. I thought the ONLY answer I’d see would be PFM…yet I read way down the list and didn’t see any Manning. He had his friggin neck fused and came back to have 2 of the all-time passing performances. He has to be #1.

  22. Steve Young was great (great enough to get a 4 year 40 million dollar deal back in 1984 dollars! That’s like a Gillian dollars in 2018 money) then sucked (TB) then became great again. (see Canton)

    Randy Moss is another one.
    Most amazing rookie I have ever seen in 1998.
    Considered washed up in Oakland. Traded for a 4th round pick.
    Caught 23 TD’s and helped the Patriots finished the regular season 16-0.

  23. Assuming you mean players and not actual games….Adrian Peterson got he’s knee blown out and came back to almost break Dickerson’s season rushing record.

    Also, similar but less exciting, I thought I watched Willis McGahee play his last down of football when his knee went backwards in the Fiesta Bowl back in ‘02 or so. I was astonished watching him squatting just months after the surgery, and he still was a Top 25 pick who had a pretty decent career. I could throw a vote his way, although AP’s Case is more accurate, given that he was already in the NFL at the time of the injury.

  24. I am going to say the Dallas Cowboys and I’m not even a fan. To go from one of the storied franchises of the NFL and a team regularly in the playoffs/SuperBowl, the Doomsday Defense with the same GM and HC combo for 20+ years and all that to 1-15, having to fire said HC only to completely rebuild and a few years later win 3 Super Bowls in 4 years. That was a pretty epic comeback.

  25. Surprised no one has mentioned Peyton Manning yet, had four neck surgeries, doctors weren’t even sure if he’d ever take the field again and he came back and led the Broncos to two super bowls winning one of them and putting up the greatest passing season of all time in 2013. Won another league MVP.

  26. The amount of people talking about individual games instead of players over a span of years is baffling to me. Must be common core reading comprehension.

  27. Adrian Peterson. Nobody else has accomplished that level of dominance after such a devastating injury.

    Also throwing in a vote for 28-3.

  28. How did no one say Brett Favre? He looked washed up with the Jets but then came back and was scary with the Vikings and was one throw away from the Super Bowl. That was a magical season. Even Carson Palmer rebounding from an awful Raiders tenure to make the Cardinals relevant should be noted. But I do agree that Kurt Warner rebounding from being tossed to the curb by the Rams and looking awful with the Giants to take the Cardinals to the super bowl was epic.

  29. terripet says:
    April 6, 2018 at 7:29 am
    Colts over Tampa and Colts over cheaters
    ————————

    Although I agree some of the Colt’s self defeats have been epic, I dont think thats what they are asking here.

  30. Jim Plunkett’s comeback was unprecedented at the time, and it’s still unparalleled. Heisman winner, Rookie of the Year, set a then-rookie record for TD passes. Washed up, out of the league, claimed by one team; the Raiders. Went on to win two Super Bowls after the age of 32. Now THAT’s a comeback.

    I have a lot of respect for Kurt Warner but his story is an “out of nowhere” story, not a comeback story. You have to have experienced the heights and been cast aside to really be a “comeback” player IMO.

  31. Warner, after looking done with the Giants to almost winning a Super Bowl with Arizona.

  32. Kurt Warner
    Adrian Petersen
    Tedy Bruschi
    Payton Manning
    Randy Moss
    Three different guys named Williams were considered all done only to return and put in good seasons.
    There are several players that beat cancer to return. Thats always a triumph.
    If Andrew Luck ever plays again he makes this list.
    Lets see what happens with Teddy Bridgewater.

  33. Since no one else has said it, Gale Sayers, after his first knee injury. Of course, his comeback didn’t last long, but it was memorable. I wasn’t alive then, but I saw it in the movie “Brian’s Song”.

  34. I am not sure I agree with many of those pushing Kurt Warner. I feel like most of you are pointing out the move from bagging groceries to going to the Rams. But, by definition, a comeback means you were once good, then weren’t good, and then returned to good. Coming out of Nowhere Award? Sure. But, it isn’t a comeback if he was never good prior to that.

    All that said, it you are pushing it for how he rebounded with the Cardinals after stinking with the Giants, then I could see your point.

  35. Lets be honest and cut to the chase…That had a comeback to win a Superbowl; Bob Griese, Pete Carroll, Dick Vermeil…. and FOLES

  36. So many choices…Jim Plunkett, Kurt Warner, Adrian Peterson are all good choices. I’d like to throw Ottis Anderson into the mix as well, who was considered past his prime when he helped the Giants win Super Bowl XXV.

  37. shackdelrio says:
    April 6, 2018 at 9:45 am
    Warner, after looking done with the Giants to almost winning a Super Bowl with Arizona.

    ————-

    Warner was still done in Arizona, he was being bailed out and carried by Larry Fitzgerald, Anquon Boldin, Edgerrin James and a top notch Oline every game. He gets far too much credit for the Cardinals because of his time in St. Louis.

  38. The Colts thought Peyton Manning was finished after his neck surgery but he went back to setting records right after joining the Broncos.

  39. Some good choices above, but I’d have to go with Jim Plunkett. Can’t think of anyone with that level up up-and-down and that kind of post-washed-up heights 92 Super bowl wins).

    Add that he should be in the Hall of Fame (it’s not the Hall of Consistency) and the generally short memories that people seem to have these days, and he seems like a really good person to put the spotlight on.

  40. Ugh, typo above in my Plunkett comment. Should be (2 Super Bowl wins), but I missed the shift key and hit 9 instead.

  41. Mark Fields – Came back from Hodgkins, made pro bowl, 50 Tackles, 12 Assists, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR, 3 PD.

    Got jobbed out of comeback player of the year…went to a guy that wasn’t injured but benched the year before. (Brees)

  42. I have a lot of respect for Kurt Warner but his story is an “out of nowhere” story, not a comeback story. You have to have experienced the heights and been cast aside to really be a “comeback” player IMO.
    ======

    He made the Hall of Fame for being a fairy tale.

    From grocery shelf stocker to NFL MVP and Super Bowl winner.

    He had 3 great seasons, by any standard. That’s it.

    Pretty bad precedent set by HOF voters.

  43. Personally I don’t think Kurt Warner qualifies, unless you’re talking about his Arizona career. To say he made a “come back” with the Rams, what did he come back from? I always thought when we’re talking about “come back” players it means they were at the top of their game at some point and then fell off (for whatever reason), and then came back to the top of their game again. Kurt Warner was an all-pro immediately with the Rams.

  44. It simply HAS to be Drew Brees. He completely tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder in 2005. That’s the WORST injury that can happen to a QB. he was in a contract year, and Phillip Rivers was standing by to take over as starting QB in San Diego. After successful surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews, Brees couldn’t even raise his arm, much less throw a football. He wasn’t sure he’d ever throw another pass in the NFL. All that’s happened since is FIVE career 5000 Yd passing seasons (in all of NFL history, only 5 QBs have ever achieved that, and NO ONE else has done it more than ONCE), the record for consecutive games throwing a TD pass, a Super Bowl 44 victory and Super Bowl MVP. I’d say that’s a pretty outstanding comeback.

  45. Jim Plunkett… From failin gwith two awful teams and about to be out of the NFL to two times Super Bowl champion and MVP

  46. I thought Mike Vick was a better overall QB after he came back from his prison stint. But as impressed as i was with him, he didn’t win anything.

    So the answer to the question is Jim Plunkett. Relegated to the “bust” heap, then on to win 2 SBs.

    Lyle Alzado did some downright dominant things during his reclamation years as well.

  47. factschecker says:
    April 6, 2018 at 9:10 am
    Steve Young was great (great enough to get a 4 year 40 million dollar deal back in 1984 dollars! That’s like a Gillian dollars in 2018 money) then sucked (TB) then became great again. (see Canton)

    Randy Moss is another one.
    Most amazing rookie I have ever seen in 1998.
    Considered washed up in Oakland. Traded for a 4th round pick.
    Caught 23 TD’s and helped the Patriots finished the regular season 16-0.
    _______________________________________

    None of us in The Nation considered him washed up. We all knew it was terrible coaching and spotty QB play. Didn’t shock me at all when he tore it up for Belichik.

  48. Tony Dung is a racist. He’ll always go to the dark side to pander and whimper – the dog killer had no success in his comeback and to this day his family is still breaking the law – I live in his hometown and this family is full of snakes and criminals. I wish this guy would just disappear or end up in prison where he could become a jailhouse wife.

  49. Eric Berry – Lymphoma, are you kidding me? And he will probably do it again from a torn achilles this year!

  50. This isn’t about comeback games, guys.

    Vick is a great story, as are Plunkett, Favre with the Vikes, A.P., and Peyton Manning. Drew Brees’ comeback was remarkable, considering the severity of his injury and what he has accomplished since. I love the Rocky Bleier story because I love Rocky Bleier, as well.

    Randy Moss was considered diminished in Oakland, but he wasn’t completely written off. It’s not like he didn’t have value-he was traded for a fourth rounder, not cut from the team. So I don’t know if that should be considered as much of a comeback as some of the others.

    Kurt Warner’s time with the Cardinals is a huge one. I mean, Arizona was trying to start Matt Leinart even while Warner was coming in for him. Just saying Kurt Warner brings up Dick Vermeil of course, whose time with the Rams qualifies of course. I think he and Brees are the best due to what they accomplished afterwards.

    Janoris Jenkins is a good one not as many people know about. He’s considered one of the best corners in the NFL by some, and he was kicked off the team at Florida before coming back at North Alabama and playing at a high level in the league. Not really NFL, but still. If college counts, we could say Willis McGahee and Frank Gore do as well.

    There’s also Roger Staubach finally winning his Superbowls, and Young finally getting his ring, not to mention Bruschi coming back from the stroke, or Moon and Flutie coming back to the NFL after the CFL to play at a high level.

  51. The year Tim Hightower came back and played for the Saints after having been out of football for 3 years. He really made an impact and contribution.Ran over Luke Keichly on his way to scoring a TD.

  52. And then there’s Drew Brees, who got injured and dumped in San Diego as the doctors said he would never play football again. It worked out pretty good for the Saints for the last 12 years.

  53. Bo Jackson was one of my favorite players of all time. When he tried to come back from his dislocated hip I know everyone was rooting for him, but he just couldn’t run anymore. And yes, his comeback was in MLB, but since it was a football injury and he was incredible I thought I’d add him to the mix.

  54. drrichardrydze says:
    April 6, 2018 at 10:04 am

    Warner was still done in Arizona, he was being bailed out and carried by Larry Fitzgerald, Anquon Boldin, Edgerrin James and a top notch Oline every game. He gets far too much credit for the Cardinals because of his time in St. Louis.
    ————————-

    James was decent that year, but that’s it. Top notch O-line? Not even close. Fitz and Boldin were great, but someone had to get the ball to them, and it sure as heck wasn’t going to be Matt Leinart.

  55. How about playing great in college, getting a near career-ending injury, but came back to play in the NFL. Greatness still pending. I’m talking of Jaylon Smith on the Cowboys.

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