At the NFL Honor awards on Saturday night, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson was named ‘NFL Comeback Player of the Year’ after missing all of 2015 with a torn ACL. This comes as no surprise because of Nelson's performance this season and the star power that he possesses as one of the best wide receivers in football playing for the Green Bay Packers. The Packers offense struggled throughout the first half of the season, but turned it on in the second half and were able to help the Packers run the table and win the NFC North. The Packers won two playoff games, including a classic against the number one seed Dallas Cowboys, to advance to the franchises 7th NFC Championship game since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. In 2016, Nelson posted 97 receptions, 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns.
There was one Baltimore Raven you could've seriously considered, and really should've been seriously considered, for the ‘NFL Comeback Player of the Year’ award. Especially when that player was coming off two dislocated and fractured hip injuries and was told his career was over; Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta.
Pitta defied all kinds of odds in 2016 and took a gigantic risk of playing football with the serious chance one more hit could result with Pitta ending up in a wheelchair. This risk is still out there. We can't forget Pitta has a wife and three kids, including twins. Pitta wound up posting career numbers, catching 86 receptions for 729 yards to go along with two touchdowns this past season. Pitta became a key cog in the Ravens offense again and proved he was still the best tight end the Ravens currently have on the depth chart. We all knew Nelson was winning, but you would think Pitta would recieve at least some votes and some ounce of respect for defying doctor's orders and seriously putting his career on the line. Apparently, not so much.
According to NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal, Pitta only received two votes for the award. Nelson won it with 36 votes, followed by Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake at 11 votes. I never expected Pitta to win and I don't think many people figured he would win, we all knew Nelson was going to win it before the 2016 season even began. However, two votes for a guy coming back from two hip dislocations and with his career and essential normal life on the line, is a little ridiculous. Coming back from a torn ACL is no picnic. Just ask Joe Flacco, Adrian Peterson, Carson Palmer, Tom Brady and numerous other athletes along with Nelson. However, a torn ACL isn't a career ender like it used to be. One hip dislocation and fracture is awful to have, let alone two. Pitta was able to come back in late 2013 after the first hip injury he suffered during a collision in training camp, but suffered the second one on a non-contact injury in Week 3 the very next year. He missed the rest of 2014 and all of the 2015 season.
It really is a shame Pitta's season and miraculous comeback didn't get thoroughly recognized by the voters. Pitta deserved more love and respect for pulling off the kind of season he had under immense circumstances and the masses doubting him. Especially considering the fact Pitta became the only reliable option for the Ravens in the tight end position. Think about it? Ben Watson tore his Achilles. Nick Boyle and Darren Waller were suspended. Maxx Williams missed the entire season with a knee injury and Crockett Gillmore missed the remaining nine games of the season with a hamstring injury. With all the criticism and calls for Pitta's release he has gotten all year, Pitta was the only one you could count on at that position. Even when Waller and Boyle returned, Pitta still played well and didn't lose snaps.
It stinks Pitta didn't get the respect he deserved for his courageous performance this season. Pitta doesn't need an award to show it though; Pitta knows it himself. He has nothing to prove. He proved everybody wrong and stepped out onto the field with his teammates, including his best friend, Joe Flacco. Dennis played the game he loves after so much uncertainty about his future. If 2016 proves to be Pitta's last year as a Raven, he deserves all the appreciation and respect from all of the Ravens fans for putting his career on the line and doing what he loves and standing up for what he believed in. No matter where Pitta plays, lets all hope he plays football for a long time and continues to defy the odds. After all, these are human beings, not robots.