Even at the professional level, athletes can lose confidence. Previous superstars might even question if they can get back to their elite level of production after a dud season. The Comeback Player of the Year Award has always stood out in my eyes. It shows several non measurable characteristics that get swept under the rug for athletes. Mental toughness, perseverance, as well as work ethic are extreme factors that can help an athlete bounce back to the top of the league. This is especially true after a season in which they heavily under performed. Here are just a few of the candidates I believe are due for a MAJOR comeback once the NFL begins this September.
Ben Roethlisberger has kept the Steelers at the top of the AFC since his rookie season in 2004. If it wasn’t for Tom Brady, Ben would most likely have a minimum of one additional Super Bowl ring on his resume. His 2019 season was cut extremely short due to an elbow injury that kept him on the sidelines from week 2 to the end of the season. The Hall of Famer is coming off a full season of rehab. He looks fully prepared to help his team get back to the Postseason. At the age of 38, it is difficult to predict exactly what Ben will bring to the table. But, he is not a quarterback you can count out. Just take a look at his career accolades. Ben has two career Super Bowls under his belt, the second most among active NFL Quarterbacks behind Brady. Pittsburgh managed to go 8-8 last season. This was with a group of quarterbacks that will most likely never play a meaningful NFL snap again. I expect Ben to lift this organization once again and get back to his normal form, which is a ceiling without limitations.
A.J. Green had to miss the entire 2019 season due to injury. However, what a perfect time to return to his old self after the organization drafted Joe Burrow with the first overall pick. Burrow is coming off the most efficient college season ever as a quarterback. I am fully confident the coaching staff will allow Burrow to let loose with the football. Green is in a position to really pad his stats with this team still at the basement on the league. Green has been to six Pro Bowls in just seven seasons. At 31 years old, this veteran wide receiver is in the mix for a huge season in terms of production. And to be honest, he’ll probably be Joe Burrow’s best friend.
Todd Gurley was the 2017 Offensive Player of the Year. Gurley, along with Aaron Donald is a major reason why the young team was able to reach the Super Bowl before falling short to the New England Patriots. In July of 2018 Gurley was inked to a 4 Year/ $60 million contract extension. After recently signing one of the biggest deals in NFL history for a running back, he was released and signed to the Atlanta Falcons the following year. Gurley played his college football career at Georgia. He’s due to get his mojo back. Keep in mind, he’s with an offense that portrays one of the most elite set of weapons in the league. This dual threat back will be more motivated than ever to prove the LA Rams wrong for letting him go.
There is evidently a long list of players who are ready to comeback. Whether it’s from injury or a bad season, they’ll once again showcase their talent. This season will be full of uncertainty due to all NFL teams being incapable of holding any OTA’s or on site meetings. For the first time the NFL will be coming back from a virtual off season. The door is open for a lot of new teams and players to make their stamp in the league.
-Fred O’Brien (@FOBSportsNFL)