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NFL Honors: Joe Flacco beats Damar Hamlin to win Comeback Player of the Year – despite the Buffalo Bills safety’s miraculous return after suffering an on-field cardiac arrest last season

Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco was awarded the Comeback Player of the Year award over Damar Hamlin during the NFL Honors on Thursday. 

The Buffalo Bills safety was thought to have been a guarantee to take the award home after he made a miraculous return to the field following his on-field cardiac arrest against the Cincinnati Bengals last season. 

But Flacco, who came off the couch to lead the Cleveland Browns to the playoffs, was the shock winner on Thursday night. 

Hamlin received eight more first-place votes than Flacco, 21 to 13. However, Flacco made up the difference with voters with 26 second-place votes compared to Hamlin’s seven. 

The NFL scores votes on a 5-3-1 scale, giving Flacco the edge. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield finished third in the voting for Comeback Player of the Year. 

After missing most of the 2023 season, Flacco won NFL Comeback Player of the Year

Hamlin was long expected to win the award after going into cardiac arrest on the field last year

Hamlin was long expected to win the award after going into cardiac arrest on the field last year

It was this hit from Tee Higgins that triggered Hamlin's scary on-field cardiac arrest in 2023

It was this hit from Tee Higgins that triggered Hamlin’s scary on-field cardiac arrest in 2023

Hamlin was eventually driven away in an ambulance 30 minutes after he initially collapsed

Hamlin was eventually driven away in an ambulance 30 minutes after he initially collapsed

Also receiving first-place votes for the award were a trio of quarterbacks — Tua Tagovailoa, Matthew Stafford and Brock Purdy. 

Hamlin was considered the clear frontrunner for Comeback Player of the Year after the Bills safety miraculously returned to the field this season just months after suffering cardiac arrest during last season’s Week 17 match up against the Cincinnati Bengals, that saw him resuscitated on the field. 

Even Flacco had claimed that Hamlin should win the award a couple of weeks ago. 

‘For sure,’ he said when asked by CBS Sports Radio if Hamlin should win the award.

‘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.’ 

Flacco is set to be a free agent next month as the Browns typical starting quarterback, Deshaun Watson, gets back to full health after shoulder surgery.  

Hamlin is under contract with the Bills through next season. 

Hamlin led all vote-getters with 14 third-place votes, slightly higher than Mayfield’s 13. Flacco had eight third-place votes. 

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