Dolphins quarterback Pennington honoured
Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington was named the Associated Press comeback player of the year after helping guide the team's dramatic turnaround just a few months after being out of work.
After struggling last year in his eighth season with the New York Jets, Pennington was released in the summer to clear roster and salary space after the team acquired Brett Favre from Green Bay.
Pennington quickly signed with Miami, where Bill Parcells, who had been involved in selecting Pennington for New York in the 2000 draft, was in his first year as executive vice-president.
Pennington threw for 3,653 yards this season — the highest total in his career — for 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
The 32-year-old will lead Miami into a home playoff game against Baltimore on Sunday after an 11-5 regular season. The Dolphins, with a motley crew of quarterbacks, won just one game in 2007.
Pennington has managed to win the comeback award on two separate occasions, meaning the goal in 2009 will be to finally string together consecutive strong seasons.
The quarterback has thrown for more than 3,000 yards three times in his career, but never back-to-back.
Pennington received 19 votes from the writers, making him the clear winner in a field of candidates that included a number of quarterbacks. Tennessee's Kerry Collins and Carolina's Jake Delhomme each received six votes, with Kurt Warner of Arizona getting four.
Philip Rivers of San Diego received one vote, and a puzzling one at that, given that he was one of 15 quarterbacks to throw for over 3,000 yards last season.
Arizona wide receiver Anquan Boldin got four votes and was the rare player whose comeback occurred within a single season.
Boldin was knocked unconscious in a late September game and suffered a fractured sinus but rebounded to finish with 89 catches and 11 touchdowns, near the top of the league among wide receivers.
Others receiving votes included Tampa wide receiver Antonio Bryant, Miami linebacker Joey Porter, his teammate running back Ronnie Brown, Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark and Baltimore tackle Willie Anderson.
With files from the Associated Press