Voting Failure! Why Damar Hamlin Deserved Better

Following a miraculous return to play, Buffalo Bills' reserve safety Damar Hamlin made the Comeback of the Year but outrageously did not win the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco came back from lounging on his couch. Buffalo Bills' safety Damar Hamlin came back from the dead.

They are not the same.

The magnitude of Hamlin's comeback is unlike anything ever seen before in professional football. The idea that the voters named Flacco the NFL Comeback Player of the Year is downright offensive.

So, Flacco quarterbacked the Browns to a 4-1 stretch run and an AFC Wildcard berth — impressive but certainly not unprecedented. He accounted for 13 touchdown passes and eight interceptions, hardly an historic five-game sample.

Flashback to Week 17 of the 2022 season, when the unthinkable happened on Monday Night Football. Hamlin collapsed only seconds after a first-quarter reception by Tee Higgins. It eventually became apparent that this was no ordinary injury as the young safety had suffered cardiac arrest, bringing teammates to tears and sending viewers into a shock of sorts. We later learned that Hamlin was in need of resuscitation and was brought back to life by Buffalo's medial personnel.

Only nine months later, Hamlin was back on the field in an NFL game.

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The argument that Hamlin didn't play enough to warrant consideration for the award is outrageous. Hamlin's ability to recover physically and mentally enough to step back onto an NFL field is as remarkable as it gets.

The difference from last year to this year was not Hamlin's role but the availability of the players ahead of him on the depth chart. Unlike 2022, the Bills had little need for a fourth safety this past season, so Hamlin wound up being a gameday inactive 12 times in the regular season. That overshadows his accomplishment of remaining on the 53-man roster and making five regular season appearances.

"Damar Hamlin should have won if he played just a single snap this year," said NFL Media's Michael F. Florio in an X post.

Hamlin, who made his season debut in a Week 4 home win over the Miami Dolphins, totaled 111 regular season snaps and 44 more in the playoffs.

Although inactive for the game, Hamlin was forced to return to the site of the nightmarish incident as the Bills played at Cincinnati in Week 9 — another mental hurdle that he successfully cleared on the comeback trail.

Related: Fifth Place?! Why NFL MVP Voters Wronged Josh Allen

"I don't necessarily know what I'm coming back from" said Flacco during an appearance on the CBS Sports Radio's Zach Gelb Show earlier last week prior to the awards announcement.

The 38-year-old quarterback suggested Hamlin should "for sure" win the award that he and four others were finalists for.

"I just think mentally to get yourself back to the point where you feel comfortable doing that kind of thing ... is pretty cool," said Flacco.

Joe knows, and credit to him for recognizing it. Too bad the voters didn't do the same. 

NewsNation on Facebook

Follow NewsNation on Twitter

Don't Miss