Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco believes there is one player truly deserving of the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award — and it isn’t him.
Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin was named as a finalist for the league’s honor, which came just a little more than a year after he suffered cardiac arrest on the field after taking a hard hit to the chest in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. While the award led to some controversy among fans who pointed to Hamlin’s limited role on the field this season, Flacco threw his support behind the Bills safety.
Joe Flacco Shares Praise for Damar Hamlin’s Journey
In an appearance on the “Zach Gelb Show” on CBS Sports Radio on January 26, Flacco said he believes Hamlin is the most deserving of the award among the finalists.
“For sure,” Flacco said. “I just think mentally to get yourself back to the point where you feel comfortable doing that kind of thing, obviously the physical part doesn’t need any explanation, but the mental part, especially at his position, is pretty cool.”
Hamlin was seen as the frontrunner throughout the season, but it drew controversy when he was named as a finalist as some fans didn’t believe he had a big enough role on the Bills to be deserving. Though he started 13 games in 2022 as the Bills lost Micah Hyde to a season-ending neck injury, Hamlin returned to a reserve role last season and appeared in only three games.
Flacco was seen as a popular pick for Comeback Player of the Year after joining the Browns in December and throwing for 1,616 yards and 13 touchdowns through six starts. He helped lead the Browns to a playoff berth.
While Flacco said he didn’t see himself as a comeback player given that he was unsigned through the majority of the season, he said he was happy to be nominated for the honor.
“Anytime you’re getting recognized in this league for playing well it’s flattering. It’s a cool group to be a part of, that’s for sure,” he said.
“I’m just coming back from being old and not being on a team for a couple months.”
Bills Safety Snags Another Honor
Hamlin has already taken home one honor this season, being voted the Comeback Player of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America. The organization praised Hamlin for the work he put in to return to the field, recalling how the Bills safety spent a week in the hospital after the incident before being flown back to Buffalo for further treatment.
Hamlin was cleared to return to football activities in April 2023, and was able to participate in the team’s training camp and preseason. He ultimately earned a spot on the final 53-man roster, playing mostly on special teams when he did take the field.
Hamlin could have the chance to return to a bigger role next season, as Hyde has an expiring contract. His wife shared a goodbye to Bills fans, hinting that he could either be headed to a new team or to retirement.
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