Last season, Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco won the Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year award. Signed by the Browns midseason, Flacco eventually took over as the team's starting quarterback for the stretch run, completing 60.3% of his passes at an average of 7.9 yards per attempt, while throwing 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions during a 4-1 run as the starter.

What, exactly, was Flacco coming back from? A dispiriting run over the previous few years as a backup quarterback, I suppose. After leaving the Baltimore Ravens, Flacco went 3-14 across four seasons with the Broncos and Jets, and at 38 years old, he spent most of the season out of the league.

Apparently, the sequence of events that led to Flacco's claiming the award inspired the AP to clarify what the award is supposed to highlight. Here are the new guidelines, according to AP senior NFL writer Rob Maaddi, who oversees All-Pro and NFL awards voting:

The spirit of the AP Comeback Player of the Year award is to honor a player who has demonstrated resilience in the face of adversity by overcoming illness, physical injury or other circumstances that led him to miss playing time the previous season. The decision to provide this guidance was made last December but could not be implemented for the 2023 awards because the season was almost completed.

It would appear that the AP would rather that players like Damar Hamlin, Tua Tagovailoa, Lamar Jackson or Matthew Stafford, who were all among the favorites to win the award after missing part of the previous season due to either injuries or medical emergencies, win the award than someone like Flacco, who was merely coming back from performing badly.