Tommy Maddox has gone from XFL Most Valuable Player to NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

Maddox, 31, was named winner of the annual award on Thursday for quarterbacking the Pittsburgh Steelers to the NFC North Division title.

The veteran pivot posted a 7-3-1 record upon replacing struggling starter Kordell Stewart.

Maddox received 24 of 48 first-place votes, 10 more than runner-up Robert Edwards of the Miami Dolphins.

Drew Bledsoe of the Buffalo Bills earned five votes and Jamal Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens, two votes.

Rodney Peete of the Carolina Panthers, Edgerrin James of the Indianapolis Colts and Fred Taylor of the Jacksonville Jaguars garnered one vote apiece.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity Pittsburgh's given me," Maddox said. "Not only to be a part of their organization, but to go out there and play."

Maddox returned to the NFL following a six-year absence and completed a Steelers record 62 per cent of his pass attempts (234-377) for 2,836 yards and 20 touchdowns.

"It's been a good year," he said. "But we still have a lot of work to do."

It nearly turned out to be a tragic year, actually, as Maddox suffered what many feared was a career-ending injury in a 31-23 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 17.

He was knocked unconscious and lost all feeling in his limbs when tackled the turf by Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck.

Maddox finally regained use of his limbs about 30 minutes later at Pittsburgh's Baptist Hospital.

"Tommy suffered a concussion and spinal cord contusion," Steelers spokesman Ron Wahl said at the time.

Remarkably, Maddox returned to the lineup on Dec. 8.

Asked about the potential for further injury, he said: "If you're worried about that, you shouldn't be playing."

Drafted 25th overall by the Denver Broncos in 1992, the UCLA product eventually saw limited action with the St. Louis Rams and New York Giants in 1994 and 1995 before becoming an life insurance salesman.

He resurfaced with the New Jersey Red Dogs of Arena Football League, then led the Los Angeles Xtreme to the XFL Championship, winning league MVP along the way.

with files from Sports Network