Already a Pro Bowler and the winner of the Ed Block Courage Award, Tom Brady can add another honor to his recent haul. Today, the Associated Press announced that Brady has won its Comeback Player of the Year award.
Brady returned this season after a knee injury knocked him out for the season midway through the first quarter of 2008, and he played nearly as well as he ever had. Aside from his record-setting 2007 season, Brady set personal bests in passing yardage, touchdown passes, and completion percentage as the Patriots won the AFC East and returned to the playoffs.
During a chat with local media this afternoon, Brady said he hadn't heard he'd won the award until reporters informed him of the news. He said the injury helped reinforce his appreciation for the game and for being part of a team.
"I love playing and I love being out there with my teammates," he said. "Practicing today, that's the greatest reward for us -- to be part of a team that's successful and to have the good fortune to be playing now. I spoke to Wes [Welker] and told him things kind of change and evolve when you have an injury like that. You really appreciate the game. Not that you didn't appreciate it before, but, for whatever reason, it's just a different level. When you don't have the opportunity to play, it's different for us. I played 15 straight years without missing a game -- high school, college, pro."
"Every time you walk on the field, you feel blessed. You feel good to
get on the bus healthy, win or lose. You're disappointed when you
lose, but you feel good that you have the ability to go out and play
the next week. More than anything, that's the life-lesson I was able to
Brady beat out Tampa Bay running back Carnell Williams, earning 19 votes to Williams's 14. Brady is the second Patriot to win the award. Tedy Bruschi shared it with wide receiver Steve Smith in 2005 after coming back following a stroke.
"[Tom} started off in the spring and did everything that everybody else did all the way through: the offseason program, spring workouts, mini-camp, training camp, preseason, all of that," coach Bill Belichick said. "So he's had a solid year."