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What did Chad Pennington come back from?

The NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award has been around since 1972 given to players that overcome injury, a Ryan Leaf like season and some form of adversity. This year's award was given, not earned, to Chad Pennington because his only contribution for the award was playing a full season. Did he overcome injury? Obviously. But so did Palmer and Drew Brees -- each of whom had a much better season.

The Votes

Chad Pennington 27
Drew Brees 8.5
Carson Palmer 5.5

Let's examine this for a second. Drew Brees' overall numbers are better. He helped turn the Saints from a 3-13 team to division winners. Here's the kicker. Brees had a good 2005 season -- as did Carson Palmer -- that was cut short by a late season injury. Pennington, who completed his first full season in his seven-year career, won because injury took him out most of last season and played all 16 games this season. It's not like he had a great 2006 season though. He threw one more touchdown than interceptions. His rating is ten points lower than Brees and Palmer. His 3,352 yards passing ranks 10th in the league. If he was the winner because he played a full season, then that's a joke of an award.

The Numbers

Chad Pennington 82.6 3,352 64.5 17 16
Drew Brees 96.2 4,418 64.3 26 11
Carson Palmer 93.9 4,035 62.3 28 13

The History

YEAR Player
2005 Tedy Bruschi, Steve Smith
2004 Drew Brees
2003 Jon Kitna
2002 Tommy Maddox
2001 Garrison Heart
2000 Joe Johnson
1999 Bryant Young
1998 Doug Flutie
1997 Robert Brooks
1996 Jerome Bettis
1995 Jim Harbaugh, Garrison Heart
1994 Dan Marino
1993 Marcus Allen
1992 Randall Cunningham
1991 Jim McMahon
1990 Barry Word

Should Palmer have won? His injury last season was the most documented. Not only did he shred his knee that had experts forecasting a recovery time of a full calendar year, but he was voted in the Pro-Bowl. Did he comeback? Hell yes he did. As did Drew Brees. These guys had question marks coming into the season finishing in the top-five in most of the major passing categories.

Chad Pennington missed most of 2005. His play in 2006 was so-so. Nothing to write home about. Am I making more than I should? Perhaps; I usually do. With a few exceptions, the award is generally not given to greats in the game. And as most of us know, Pennington is not a great in the game -- just another quarterback that manages the game.