Dez Bryant a Clear Pro Bowl Snub as Victor Cruz Wins Popularity Contest

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistDecember 26, 2012

Getty Images
Getty Images

Maybe Dez Bryant came on a little too late this year, costing him the fan-vote power necessary to make the Pro Bowl cut. Or maybe there actually is a significant number of people on this planet who believe Victor Cruz has had a better season than Bryant.

Regardless, it's another indictment of the Pro Bowl's relevance and righteousness that Bryant isn't heading to Hawaii while Cruz is. 

Not only does the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver rank second in football with 12 touchdown catches (10 of which have come in the second half of games), but he also ranks third in the conference in receiving yards and fourth in receptions. 

While nobody can question the presence of Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones and Brandon Marshall on the NFC roster, Bryant has a significant edge over Cruz in all major receiving categories. 

Part of the problem is that Bryant didn't really take off until later in the year, while Cruz has disappeared often as the season has wore on. In his last two games, the Giants wide receiver has just 36 total yards while Bryant has 283 yards and three touchdowns during the same stretch.

At the season's midway point, Cruz had 52 catches to Bryant's 42, 650 yards to Bryant's 503 and seven touchdowns to Bryant's two. At that point, you could have made the argument that Cruz deserved a Pro Bowl spot ahead of guys like Percy Harvin, Vincent Jackson and Roddy White, but then Jones and Bryant really began to emerge.

Bryant deserves credit beyond the stats sheet, too. Both players have made their fair share of mistakes this season, but it's Bryant who's out there dominating with only nine fingers right now. He could have shut it down and had highly-recommended surgery, but he's pushing forward for the team. That's a factor for me, too. 

In terms of less ordinary stats, Bryant has a significant edge on Cruz in terms of yards after catch (460 to 344), YAC per reception (5.2 to 4.2), percentage of passes caught (68.2 to 62.6), yards per reception (14.9 to 12.7) and broken tackles (14 to 10), per Pro Football Focus. He does have more fumbles (two to Cruz's zero), but both players have dropped exactly 11 passes.

So why, besides poor timing, did Cruz make the team ahead of Bryant? Maybe Bryant's reputation played a role. After all, the 24-year-old spent part of the season distracted by a family assault charge stemming from an alleged incident between him and his mother. 

In sharp contrast, Cruz, who has become an endorsement superstar since Super Bowl XLVI, starred in a Campbell's Chunky Soup commercial with an actress playing his mom. Wholesome soup, wholesome image. 

Image is everything, right? 

The good news? The Pro Bowl is useless anyway.