FRISCO, Texas– At the end of the regular season, Dez Bryant was tied for 45th in the NFC with 50 receptions.
His 796 receiving yards ranked 29th among all NFC players and he was tied for sixth in the conference with his eight touchdown catches.
Does Dez Bryant really deserve to be in the Pro Bowl?
You bet he does. Absolutely. One hundred percent.
I know there are a lot of people out there who badmouth this all-star game and say they won't watch it on Sunday. Some of them probably won't. But a lot of people still do, at least that's what the ratings suggest here in the last couple of years.
It's certainly not a game for hard-hitting defensive plays, but that's not what the game is for.
To me, the Pro Bowl is a place to put the NFL's biggest and brightest superstars on one stage together.
If that's the case, then Bryant definitely deserves to be in the game, and I'm glad he was added as a replacement for Julio Jones, who of course is playing in the Super Bowl.
Obviously that's where Bryant and his teammates would prefer to be, but that's another story for another time.
Before I go any further, it must be pointed out that the Cowboys' coaching staff had nothing to do with adding Bryant to the Pro Bowl roster. He was one of the alternates voted on by the players, coaches and fans from the start and once the Falcons won their game, the NFL went to the list of alternates.
But back to my point – this game is for the superstar players.
Sure, Bryant missed a few games due to injury. And there were some others where he was limited to one catch.
[embeddedad0]But I think we saw in the playoffs just how dynamic he can be. Other than the obvious reasons, I was also disappointed not to see Bryant and Dak Prescott get more time on the field together in the playoffs.
It seemed like things were starting to click for the two. Bryant had two touchdown catches in a win over the Lions, then they took two weeks off together as the season wrapped up and then they had a first-round bye. They came back in the playoffs and Bryant again had two touchdowns against the Packers.
Maybe this is the start of a connection that will explode in 2017? Who knows, maybe it starts in Orlando this week?
But games like this are built for Bryant. He's in a category with the likes of Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. Regardless of their numbers, they need to be in a game like this.
Sure, Bryant ranked behind three different Minnesota Vikings receivers, but I doubt fans are going to keep the game on the TV to watch Stefon Diggs catch passes or even Doug Baldwin, who had 94 receptions for 1,128 yards and seven touchdowns for the Seahawks this year.
And maybe one day those guys will be on this stage and become the players that fans want to see.
Right now, though, Bryant gets that attention because he's earned it. And with that, he's absolutely earned the right to be in this game.