In 2012, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning nearly won both the MVP award and comeback player of the year recognition. But for Adrian Peterson, who was coming back from a Christmas Eve 2011 ACL tear, making a late charge at the single-season rushing record, Manning would have won both.
In the end, Manning was the comeback player — and Peterson was the MVP.
A decade later, Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith is a candidate for both awards.
At MVP, Smith is a long shot, for now. DraftKings has him at +2200, well behind current favorite Patrick Mahomes (+200).
Smith can become a serious contender if the Seahawks capture the top seed in the NFC. Even then, however, he’d have to deal with the quarterback of the AFC’s top seed. If the Bills or Chiefs end up getting the only bye in their conference, Josh Allen or Mahomes will be more likely to win the MVP award than Smith. Also, if Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill ends up with 2,100 receiving yards, he could take it from all of them.
Smith is currently the clear favorite for comeback player of the year, at -135. Even if he’s not really coming back from anything, or to anything.
But that’s the reality of comeback player of the year. There’s no definition, no rules. The player can indeed be coming back from anything, or nothing at all. It doesn’t matter if Smith was never a great player during his time with the Jets. It doesn’t matter if he wasn’t injured.
All that matters is he’s playing well enough to get an award, after hardly playing for years and, when he was playing, never playing like he is now. If it won’t be MVP, then it should be comeback player of the year.