Every year players that should be elected to the Pro Bowl are left out. This leads to countless debates over who should be in the Pro Bowl and who should not, as well as how the voting process should be done in the first place.
This was undoubtedly the greatest year for NFL quarterbacks ever. Each week it seemed as if more and more records were being broken. Some of the greatest performances ever seen in the NFL were happening routinely. Somehow, hidden in all of this was Matthew Stafford.
Any other year, Stafford would have been considered an MVP candidate for the season that he had. Unfortunately, due to both the conference that he played in as well as the Pro Bowl voting process, Stafford did not get voted in. This raises the question: what does it take to get voted into this game?
Not every position in the NFL can be measured by yards and touchdowns, but if there is one that can, it's the quarterback. Statistically, how does Stafford not make it?
Stafford threw for over 5,000 yards in 2012, becoming only the fourth quarterback in the history of the NFL to do this. He threw for 41 touchdowns this season, seventh most in history and third in the NFL in 2012. His passer rating of 97.2 ranked fifth in the NFL. Statistically, Stafford is among the NFL's best.
Some will argue that there are things more important than just numbers. The only other thing that is measurable for an NFL quarterback is wins, and Stafford led the historically awful Detroit Lions to a 10-6 record, the team's best record since 1995.
With three quarterbacks being voted into the Pro Bowl each season, why did he not get voted in? Well, there's Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, who were well deserving of the honor, and then the final spot.
Initially, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning was voted in as the third quarterback. Granted, Manning has had an extremely impressive season, ultimately leading to his second Super Bowl appearance, but his regular season fell short of Stafford in every possible way. Individually, Stafford out played Manning in every category. As a team? The Lions finished the season with 10 wins to the Giants' nine.
With the Giants' Super Bowl appearance, Manning was forced to drop out, leading to a Pro Bowl alternate. Every sign would point to Stafford. Instead, rookie phenom Cam Newton becomes the NFC's third quarterback.
There is no question that Newton had perhaps the best rookie season of any quarterback in NFL history. However, he did not have the season of Stafford. As exciting as he was to watch, he did not have the same impact on his team's record. Newton will likely be an annual representative for the NFC, but it should not have started this season.
In every possible measurement, Stafford had a better season than both Manning and Newton. He led his team to a better record than both the Giants, and the Panthers. As I alluded to, it was no doubt the year of the quarterback in 2011, so there is no taking away the impressive seasons that Manning and Newton both had. They simply don't compare to Stafford.
So if there is one thing that many people suspected, but could not prove, it's this: The Pro Bowl is nothing more than a popularity contest. Players do not make it based on the numbers they put up, or the record of their team. They make it based on how popular they are. How else can one justify Matthew Stafford not playing in the Pro Bowl?