INDIANAPOLIS -- After missing most of the 2010 season, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was voted the Associated Press NFL Comeback Player of the Year Saturday at the inaugural NFL Honors awards ceremony.
Stafford beat out six other players who received votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. Stafford fought through injuries his first two seasons, then threw for more than 5,000 yards in 2011 to lead Detroit to its first playoff berth in 12 years.
"That's what people are judged on this time of year," said Stafford, who added the Lions are capable of much more than just earning a wild-card berth and losing in the opening round. "We have great talent around me. We've got it all. We're still proving ourselves."
He received 21 votes, six more than Cleveland linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith finished third, followed by Carolina receiver Steve Smith, Denver defensive end Elvis Dumervil, New England defensive end Andre Carter and Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
"He doesn't waver," Lions receiver Nate Burleson said. "When you have a quarterback that isn't worried, who always has a smile on his face and lets the ball release out of his hand like a cannon, you're not worried at all. You look at him like he's the captain of the boat and if he's ready to sail, we're going to go to sea with him."
Stafford is the first Lion and the ninth quarterback -- four straight -- to win the award since its inception in 1998.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press