Joe Flacco beats Damar Hamlin for Comeback Player of the Year with fewer first-place votes


Joe Flacco’s run at the end of the season earned him some hardware.

The Browns quarterback was named the AP Comeback Player of the Year on Thursday at the NFL Honors Awards in Las Vegas, winning the award over second-place finisher Damar Hamlin.

Flacco led the way with 151 total points but garnered fewer first-place votes (13) than Hamlin (21) received.

“I want to congratulate all you other nominees and winners here tonight, such a special group of men,” Flacco said during his acceptance speech. “I’m just honored to be up here and get to enjoy it all with you guys. Big thanks to the city of Cleveland, just everyone in Cleveland. I want to say thank you to my teammates, just for welcoming me into that locker room at that point in the year.

“To welcome a new guy is not the easiest thing.”

Flacco was unsigned for most of the season, though he expressed interest and a desire to continue his career, saying in September: “I can still play.”

The 39-year-old got his chance in November when he signed with the Browns in November after the team had a slew of injuries at quarterback, including to starter Deshaun Watson.

Joe Flacco holding AP Comeback Player of the Year trophy at NFL Honors award show ahead of Super Bowl 2024.
Joe Flacco holding AP Comeback Player of the Year trophy at NFL Honors award show. AP

He went 4-1 down the stretch, throwing for 13 touchdowns and 1,616 yards to lead the Browns into the playoffs.

Though it was a small sample, it was impactful enough to win the award.

Hamlin, who won the Professional Football Writers of America’s version of award, returned back to the field after suffering cardiac arrest and needing to be resuscitated during a Jan. 2, 2023 game, against the Bengals, suiting up in five regular-season games and two more in the playoffs.

At the end of January, Flacco said he was in support of Hamlin winning the AP award.

Damar Hamlin finished second for the award.
Damar Hamlin finished second for the award. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

“For sure,” Flacco replied to Zach Gelb of CBS Sports Radio when asked if Hamlin should win. “I don’t know how many snaps he played. I just think mentally, to get yourself back to the point where you feel comfortable doing that kind of thing is pretty cool.”

“I don’t necessarily know what I’m coming back from,” Flacco added in the interview. “I would say most of the guys on that list, I’m not sure what we’re coming back from, so that’s probably my initial reaction.”

Hamlin spoke with reporters yesterday, recounting his journey after the near-death experience just over a year ago.

“To give everybody some more perspective, I would just say, trust what you know and trust what got you here,” Hamlin said. “Along the journey of the ups and downs, I had my own, he had his own, and we was able to keep each other, hold each other accountable to what got us there in the moment.”


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