The 2014 NFL Pro Bowl rosters were revealed on Dec. 27 and, as expected, there was no shortage of controversy.
While the nixing of the conference requirements—there will be no AFC vs. NFC this year, instead Hall of Famers Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice will pick the two squads—represented major progress in getting this event right, a handful of deserving stars will not be heading to Honolulu on Jan. 26.
Let’s take a look at a few snubs who will be watching from the couch instead of packing their bags and punching a ticket to this year’s Pro Bowl.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears
The second-year man out of South Carolina broke out in a big way in 2013, forming a dominant receiving tandem with entrenched superstar Brandon Marshall.
Jeffery emerged as the best in the business at tracking the deep ball and finding a way to leap up and catch it at the highest point. That ability allowed him to make highlight grab after grab, especially with quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Josh McCown both showing immense trust and rapport with the young man.
The 23-year-old racked up 1,341 yards and seven scores on 86 receptions with a game still left to play. He finished sixth in the league in receiving yards, ahead of Pro Bowlers Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys, Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos and teammate Marshall.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller called this snub a “joke”:
No Alshon Jeffery in the Pro Bowl? What a joke.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) December 28, 2013
Perhaps voters felt that Jeffery didn’t cut his teeth enough yet in the league, deciding to go with more established stars at the position. However, it is hard to make a case that Thomas or Marshall deserves their Pro Bowl spot over this breakout star.
Even Marshall himself stated that, “It’d be a shame if he was not in the Pro Bowl,” according to Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Chicago head coach Marc Trestman heaped praise upon the wideout, as per Jahns:
[Jeffery has] given our football team balance... He’s given us a big-play threat, he’s given us another option for our quarterback and he’s taken some of the heat off of Brandon.
He’s not a flashy guy, you know, when he walks off the field. But on the field, he certainly flashes.
It’s difficult to argue with that, as Jeffery made plenty spectacular catches in 2013. Don’t bet on this kid missing the Pro Bowl again for a long time.
Lavonte David, OLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
David may be the most underrated player in the entire NFL, and it shows in the lack of Pro Bowl respect he received.
Unfortunately, the Buccaneers didn’t have the best season, and many of their games were played under the radar. It’s a shame, as this 23-year-old beast should be garnering Defensive Player of the Year votes in addition to a Hawaii trip.
Ira Kaufman of The Tampa Tribune was surprised that David wasn’t one of the six linebackers selected to the Pro Bowl roster, especially considering his unparalleled accomplishments in 2013:
Bucs shocked Lavonte David wasn't one of 6 LBs chosen for the Pro Bowl. He's the only LB in NFL history with 6 sacks, 5 picks in same season— Ira Kaufman (@IKaufmanTBO) December 28, 2013
For fans outside of the Bay area, OLB Lavonte David is hardly a household name. If you watched him play this year, you'd know he should be— Ira Kaufman (@IKaufmanTBO) December 28, 2013
In addition to those six sacks and five interceptions, the Nebraska product racked up 137 tackles and two forced fumbles. He’s almost sure to do damage against the New Orleans Saints in the season finale, making the decision to leave him off the Pro Bowl roster that much more inane.
Darrelle Revis and Gerald McCoy were fortunate to get Pro Bowl spots playing for the Bucs, but David deserved to be a starter in the game considering he is one of the league’s most talented outside linebackers.