The 2010 season is not what we expected it to be, with the Vikings sitting at 5-9 with 2 games to play after a sensational march to the NFC Championship Game just a year ago. But through all the disappointment and negativity this season, there have been a few rays of hope and inspiration.
The best example is LB E.J. Henderson, who is having another fine season after coming back from a severe leg injury suffered in Week 13 of the 2009 campaign. Henderson is 2nd on the team in tackles with 129 and he is tied with San Francisco’s Takeo Spikes for most INTs by a LB with 3. This is all after that leg injury in Arizona ended his 2009 season and had many thinking it would end his career.
Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks has an article on SI.com right now regarding this very subject – Henderson’s comeback season after breaking his femur last December. Banks is one of the 50 voters for the NFL’s postseason awards, and one of the awards is NFL Comeback Player of the Year. He does a nice job of breaking down the award – from its origin, to its definition, to the different ways of applying it.
“The question to wrestle with, as always,” Banks writes, “is what exactly constitutes a comeback? Does the award extend to cover a return from injury, or ineffectiveness, or irrelevancy, or as in Vick’s specific case, even incarceration? And was Vick already ‘back” last season in the most literal sense, and thus isn’t really staging a comeback in 2010, unless you consider him now fully back in comparison to the relative insignificance of his role last year in Philadelphia?”
Banks references Philadelphia QB Michael Vick, who is having an MVP-caliber season just a year or so removed from serving time stemming from a guilty plea to felony charges. The key here, though, is that Vick’s “comeback year” was 2009, when he came off of home confinement to join the Eagles. He played a small role in the offense in ’09 and this year of course has taken the league by storm and is one of the NFL’s top players.
As Banks says in his piece, a comeback is in the eye of the beholder. As such, Vick will likely receive votes not only for MVP but also for comeback player of the year. And he’s certainly earned those votes.
But given the severity of Henderson’s injury, the aggressive manner with which he rehabbed, the fact that no other NFL player has suffered and come back from this injury in the past, and the fact that Henderson is having one of his finer seasons in 8 years as a pro, I think Henderson is the choice for 2010 NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
I’m hoping Banks and the 49 other voters feel the same way.
A few other candidates for this year’s comeback player of the year award: RBs LaDainian Tomlinson and Leon Washington, LB Brian Urlacher and WRs Wes Welker and Mike Williams
Tags: E.J. Henderson
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