By the time the Pro Bowl actually happens on Jan. 27, the players snubbed from the initial selections will be ultimately meaningless. Enough players will drop out of the game due to circumstance or injury that everyone who deserves a spot (and some who don't) will get their bonus check.
Instead, when taking a look at the initial rosters, it's far more important to look at why these particular players were snubbed. Is it the dreaded East Coast bias rearing its ugly head? Or do these voters simply look for the biggest names and blindly vote accordingly?
Oftentimes it's more complicated than that and here we'll try to look for more nuance than overwrought tropes. With that in mind, here is a look at why a few Pro Bowl snubs missed the team, starting with the biggest of all, Richard Sherman.
Richard Sherman (CB, Seattle Seahawks)
Reason He Missed Pro Bowl Roster: Performance-Enhancing Drug Allegations
Based on his play on Sundays alone, Sherman is the player with by far the biggest gripe among "snubbed" players. There is nary a soul alive who should question the fact that Sherman has been among the best (if not the best) cornerback in the NFL this season.
The 24-year-old Seahawks star has 61 tackles, seven interceptions and three forced fumbles heading into the season's final week. He's been the best corner on a Seattle team that ranks fifth in the NFL in passing yards against and first against opposing WR1's, according to Football Outsiders. Alongside Brandon Browner, there probably isn't a better duo of cover corners in the game today.
One problem: A positive test for Adderall has hung over Sherman's season and his appeal lasted well past the voting period ended. While he may have won his appeal in the end, it had to weigh on the minds of many when casting their ballots.
In today's day and age, it's presumed guilt before innocence in regards to performance-enhancing drugs. Too many times fans and pundits have been burned by giving players the benefit of the doubt.
Obviously, we have to presume Sherman's innocence and allow him to play on Sundays without question. However, offseason voters were undoubtedly wary of Sherman's status (and his Ryan Braun-esque excuse) enough to avoid awarding him with a trip to Hawaii.
Alfred Morris (RB, Washington Redskins)
Reason He Missed Pro Bowl Roster: Robert Griffin III and Anti-Rookie Bias
If Morris wants to know the overarching reason he won't be making a trip to Hawaii, all he needs to do is look forward in the backfield. Fellow scintillating rookie Robert Griffin III was the only non-specialist rookie to make the Pro Bowl roster and deservedly so. He's been unbelievable all season behind center and is the latest in a group of guys who are redefining the quarterback position.
Griffin has also taken much of the spotlight away from Morris. Despite the Redskins running back being just 87 yards away from 1,500 on the season and scoring 10 touchdowns, Morris has taken a backseat to RGIII.
Morris can also blame the strong crop of players at his position in the NFC.
Obviously, one cannot argue with Adrian Peterson making the team over Morris. He's 208 yards away from breaking Eric Dickerson's all-time rushing record (2,106 yards) and has propped the Vikings into playoff contention despite Christian Ponder's woes. It's also impossible to pound desks about Marshawn Lynch's inclusion either, as he's 10 yards away from 1,500 heading into Sunday's action.
However, the voters selecting Frank Gore over Morris comes with a wildly apparent "he can get it next year" narrative. Gore will be 30 years old next season and heading into the twilight of his career while Morris just turned 24 and will ostensibly have plenty of other opportunities.
It's not a representative decision about who has played better this season, but instead is more emotional. When you have human beings voting, this happens—especially to young guys. Morris wasn't the first and he won't be the last.
Dez Bryant (WR, Dallas Cowboys)
Reason He Missed Pro Bowl Roster: Surged Too Late
At this point in the season, are there five receivers you'd take ahead of Bryant for the next half-decade? With a scintillating sprint to the finish, the third-year Cowboys wideout surged to stardom and is finally making good of his potential.
He has touchdowns in seven-straight games and three multi-touchdown performances in that period. Unfortunately, while that ascent has come at the perfect time for the Cowboys, Bryant's pre-Week 10 mediocrity put him behind the proverbial 8-ball.
Just for reference, here's a look at Bryant's first-half and second-half splits:
First Half: 42 REC, 503 YDS (12.0 YPC), 2 TDs
Second Half: 46 REC, 808 YDS (17.6 YPC), 10 TDs
Now keep in mind Bryant still has another game to go in his second half and the reasoning for his snub becomes apparent. At the season's midpoint, Bryant had seemingly plateaued in his development and was nowhere near worthy of a Pro Bowl.
It's likely that early votes and preconceived notions took Bryant out of the running, while making Victor Cruz an attractive option. When looking at Cruz's splits, you'll notice a very interesting contrast to Bryant's:
First Half: 52 REC, 650 YDS (12.5 YPC), 7 TDs
Second Half: 30 REC, 390 YDS (13.0 YPC), 2 TDs
When considering Pro Bowl ballots opened in late October when Cruz was at his peak and Bryant was languishing in the middle tier, it's pretty obvious why the Giants star will be salsaing his way to Hawaii over his division rival.
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