Damar Hamlin Not Winning Comeback Player of the Year Award Leaves NFL World Stunned

Damar Hamlin of the Bills went from appearing to be a shoo-in for Comeback Player of the Year to falling short of the nod. What were the notable reactions?

Damar Hamlin captivated the world with his miraculous comeback from his frightening cardiovascular episode in January 2023 to return to the football field this season. Many across the NFL universe believed the Buffalo Bills safety had NFL Comeback Player of the Year locked in.

However, the NFL Honors ceremony in Las Vegas unveiled, arguably, the stunner of the night. Hamlin was passed over for the award in favor of Joe Flacco of the Cleveland Browns. That announcement led to many vocal fans online.

Did Infamous Punt Fake Ruin Damar Hamlin’s Bid? One Analyst Thinks So

Per NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, Hamlin was 11 points behind Flacco.

Despite his miracle comeback from commotio cordis, one analyst believed this was the reason behind Hamlin’s snub.

“The fake punt ruined Damar Hamlin’s come back player of the year bid,” posted The Athletic’s Ted Nguyen on X (formerly known as Twitter).

Nguyen is referencing the botched punt fake the Bills attempted to run against the eventual AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round.

But outside of that theory, Hamlin’s snub was met with vocal fans, but also those who remain inspired by the safety. One fan represented “Bills Mafia.”

“Will never, ever forget the resilience that Damar Hamlin showed in his comeback from the unimaginable,” the fan shared after learning of his CPOY fate.

One fan was even more vocal about Flacco taking the win.

“Damar Hamlin came back from being dead, Joe Flacco came back from not being good at football… how is this even a contest???” the fan asked.

One more fan simply believed that Hamlin was robbed on this night. Then, one longtime NFL writer Charean Williams was stunned to see Hamlin not wrap up the nod.

“Damar Hamlin came back from the dead, but that wasn’t enough for him to win comeback player. He apparently needed to wait three days until he rose from the dead to impress the eight voters who left him off their ballot,” Williams posted.

Finally, WROC-TV Buffalo sports director Thad Brown called Flacco’s win over Hamlin “silly.”

“This is silly. Flacco played five games. Any lack of play time issues with Damar Hamlin should basically wash with Flacco. And only one guy had a bleeping cardiac arrest last year,” Brown posted.

Hamlin Offered Thoughts on CPOY, Makes Kind Gesture

Before the annual awards show, Hamlin caught up with Buffalo News reporter Jay Skurski regarding the possibility of him winning the award.

Turns out, Hamlin wasn’t truly thinking of hoisting CPOY.

“It’s an honor,” Hamlin said. “It’s always a blessing. I’m going to always count every blessing that comes my way. My journey is so much more than any accolade. Whether I win or lose, my journey will still be my journey, and the days that I went through will still be the days I went through, so it’s not about the award.

“I’m just so glad to be here, I’m glad to be standing for something that means a lot to the world, that means a lot to everybody. I’m just blessed.”

Hamlin has spent the past year making a strong push for learning CPR practices as well as pushing the use of AEDs (automated external defibrillators) since his horrific scare. He’s used his new platform to educate and inspire others through his heart journey.

But even before the awards, Buffalo Bills News reporter Katherine Fitzgerald got a chance to spend time with Hamlin. What she saw was the safety energizing young children.

“Around 9 a.m. Thursday, Hamlin joined Fanatics, along with Cowboys’ Micah Parsons and Raiders’ Davante Adams, to surprise 20 Make-A-Wish children from around the country at a Lids store in Las Vegas,” Fitzgerald reported.

“With Fanatic, it’s the most wishes granted at a Super Bowl in Make-A-Wish history. The kids had a shopping spree and have been able to attend a number of other events throughout the week.”

Fitzgerald then added two more sights involving Hamlin. One was meeting 13-year-old Solomon Barber, who had a chronic kidney disease that required a transplant. The match was made by a cousin — who happens to be a Bills fan. Hamlin then met another 13-year-old named Aiden Fullenwider who shares a special connection with him.

“He had been diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer. Coincidently, he was treated in Cincinnati — the same hospital system that Hamlin was taken to, where he was treated in UCMC’s ICU,” Fitzgerald said.

Hamlin spent his Thursday clearly not thinking about the award and instead thought more about putting smiles on kids’ faces. The rest of the world was more reactionary toward witnessing who won the nod instead of the Bills’ defender.

MORE: 2024 NFL Awards Winners — List of 2023-2024 NFL Honors Results

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