To be a Comeback Player of the Year candidate has to be a bit bittersweet for an NFL athlete. On one hand, it means you've rebounded greatly from a season lost either due to injury or incredible struggle. On the other hand, it also means you've missed significant time and were essentially written off.
"It’s been a struggle, it’s been a grind but the one thing I’ve always counted on is just my faith and just being blessed to play this game again. No matter how hard it got, I just said, ‘You know what, you could be at home playing Xbox, miserable like I’ve been the last two years.’ This year has been fun. It (stink) that we couldn’t get to the playoffs. For me, I’m just happy to play football again," Thomas told The Star-Ledger in late December.
Three ACL tears. Microfracture surgery. And no spot on the 53-man roster was guaranteed.
Those were the long odds facing Thomas as he entered the 2013 season, but the veteran never blinked. As he had done with all the uncertainly leading up to the season, T2 just powered through on his faith and determination. And with each practice, he got stronger. With each game, he got better. And before we knew it, Week 17 had arrived and Thomas not only hung on and made it through, he persevered and, quite possibly, saved his NFL career.
Now that it's all over with, Thomas is rightfully getting the attention he deserves. And after playing in all 16 games, collecting 67 tackles, one sack and one interception, Thomas is listed amongst several potential candidates for the NFL's 2013 Comeback Player of the Year Award.
"After three ACL surgeries in as many seasons, it looked like Thomas' career was over. He wound up being a key part of the team's secondary, playing all 16 games. (With seven starts.)," Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com wrote.
While it was actually only two ACL surgeries in as many years, when you add in the microfracture surgery that no one knew about until the season was over, it is a rather remarkable story. And in addition to joining Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis as the only NFL players in history to return from three ACL repairs, Thomas has now become the only player in NFL history to come back from three ACL repairs and a microfracture surgery.
In addition to T2, other potential candidates include Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson, Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes, San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis, San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews and Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno.
Although most, if not all of those players are deserving of consideration, none have faced or returned from taller odds than did Terrell Thomas. If there was ever a clear-cut candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, it is most certainly him.
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