I generally don't get all that fired up over the NFL's post-season award cavalcade. You would think that, with the season the Vikings had this year, I wouldn't have very many post-season award prospects for Minnesota to get all that fired up about. But there's one that has been announced already that, quite frankly, irritates the heck out of me.
The Sporting News announced their awards for this past NFL season this past week. Now, I can't get a handle for sure on whether or not this is the "official" Comeback Player of the Year Award or whether there's two of them or not. . .it depends on who I ask. Last year, there were two different awards, it would appear, but when I asked KSTP sports director Joe Schmit via Twitter the other day when the Football Writers Association of America would be voting on their Comeback Player of the Year Award, he said that this was the only one. If this is the only one, then I'm significantly more miffed about this. . .and if it's not, I'm afraid that this is foreshadowing what's going to happen when the awards come out during Super Bowl week.
There aren't really a lot of issues to be had with many of the Sporting News' choices, to be honest. They have the obvious choice for MVP and Offensive Player of the Year in Tom Brady, Green Bay's Clay Matthews as Defensive Player of the Year, Atlanta's Mike Smith as Coach of the Year, and so forth. Then you get to the Comeback Player of the Year Award, and see a name that, really, shouldn't be there.
Now, don't get me wrong. . .Michael Vick had a nice season for the Eagles when nobody expected him to. A very nice season, as a matter of fact. He was getting MVP consideration from thousands of people that had, obviously, never heard of Tom Brady, and led an Eagles team that was supposed to be rebuilding into the NFC playoffs. But I'm not entirely sure why he's being given the Comeback Player of the Year Award for 2010. After all, his comeback season was 2009, and he really didn't do very much, so I guess by that standard he had a comeback.
But one has to remember exactly what Michael Vick came back from. Here, allow me to remind you:
"In or about April of 2007, Peace, Phillips and Vick executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in 'testing' sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road by various methods, including hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground."
This is something that one "comes back" from? Really? Seriously? Have we lowered the standards that far?
The Comeback Player of the Year Award has always, to this point, come to represent somebody that came back from an injury or an illness, and that showed a significant deal of courage in doing so. Prior to Vickapalooza invading the NFL this season, the player that many folks were championing for the Comeback Player of the Year Award was Minnesota Vikings' middle linebacker E.J. Henderson, and with good reason. A reminder of what he came back from in 2010. (Warning: If you have a sensitive stomach, you might want to look away.)
Henderson suffered an injury that is generally associated with car crashes and falling off of mountains. The replay of this injury is grisly on a level with Joe Theismann's broken leg. He now has a titanium rod in his leg as a result of the injury. There was no way anybody thought that Henderson was going to play again in 2010, and there were many out there that thought that he wouldn't play again at all.
But not only was E.J. Henderson back out on the field for the regular season opener in New Orleans on September 9. . .he was ready for the second game of the pre-season against the San Francisco 49ers on August 22, only eight months after breaking the largest bone in his body and needing to be carted off the field in Arizona. Not only was he out there playing, it was tough to tell that he had even missed a beat, flying to the football and helping the Vikings remain as one of the top ten yardage defenses in the National Football League. He led all NFL linebackers in interceptions with three, including two in Minnesota's victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
The rehab that Henderson went through was so amazing and so revolutionary that it has set a standard for rehabilitating femur injuries.
The Vikings' medical and training staff have presented Henderson's groundbreaking case, and the rehab program, both locally and nationally. It has been written up in medical journals and is being studied for future reference, providing a road map for how to deal with such an injury.
And they've given it a nickname -- the Henderson Protocol.
"That's our joke, but I think that's what it is," Sugarman said. "I challenge anyone to top it. I think the medical staff in general, we're pretty proud of this. It's a remarkable comeback."
E.J. Henderson came back from a devastating, potentially crippling injury to return to his position as a highly productive NFL football player. Michael Vick "came back" from being a miscreant and a deviant, and getting caught doing so. One of those two men is the very embodiment of a Comeback Player of the Year. The other one is Michael Vick.