Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee is one of the best players at his position in the NFL when he’s healthy. Unfortunately, multiple ACL tears along with wrist, hamstring, and concussion issues have landed Lee on the sidelines instead of in uniform more than often he or the Cowboys would like since he entered the NFL in 2010.
That string of bad luck continued at the start of this season when Lee underwent sports hernia surgery which put him on the shelf for six weeks. However, after being activated to the active roster at the end of October, Lee says he feels better than he has in a long time.
“This is as good as I’ve felt,” Lee said. “I feel good. I’ve gotten better every single week since I’ve gotten back, physically. Each week, I’ve been able to have more reps in practice, been able to play a little bit more in different games, and I feel really good.”
Any football player with Lee’s injury history could easily fold his tent and call it a career. However, even with the laundry list of setbacks he’s suffered over the last decade, Lee continues to work his way back to the playing field and it’s due to his love for the gridiron.
“You kind of go back and forth on things at times as you get older,” Lee said. “But the problem is, any time I go on the field and I get to play, and you make a couple of plays, you’re like, ‘Well, I like this too much.’ That is my problem. I love this game too much. I love this organization a lot, and I love playing… I’m addicted to playing the game.”
Lee’s unbelievable knowledge of the game of football has some people thinking he’ll start a second career as a coach once his playing days are over. Current Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy recently spoke with Lee about the possibility of him holding a clipboard in the future.
“I think I mentioned if he is dumb enough to get into coaching we should definitely talk,” McCarthy said. “He would be a great coach.
“He would be an excellent prospect.”
It’s uncertain at the moment what Lee will do once the season is over. For now, he’s focused on helping the Cowboys win their matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday that has huge playoff implications, and not whether or not it will be his last game in AT&T Stadium.
“I really don’t think about it, just because the game is so tough,” Lee said via the team’s website. “I’ve always tried to prepare a certain way to where your focus is purely on your opponent, on how to make plays on the field, and almost trying to be obsessed with that: going over it, rehearsing it constantly throughout the week so that when you get into the game, you feel so comfortable. So for me, I’m just trying to go through the process of preparing to win another game, obviously against a great opponent, a rival. Every game I’ve played in, I feel blessed to have the opportunity.”
One of the biggest beneficiaries of Lee’s knowledge is third-year linebacker, Leighton Vander Esch. He’s currently dealing with a high ankle sprain and will miss this Sunday’s matchup with the Eagles and will be replaced by Lee. The youngster recently talked about what it’s like watching film and learning from “The General”.
“I’m still catching up to him,” Vander Esch said. “There are some times where I’ve still got to tell him like ‘Dude, you’ve got to slow down a little bit. I’m not where you are yet.’
“Sometimes I joke with him, like ‘Just chill out a little bit. Talk in my terms and not like from some other planet.’ “But it’s amazing. There are things that I learn from him every single day, every single time that we watch film together, just talking on the field.”
This type of praise would lead anyone to think Lee would be a natural as a coach. However, the former All-Pro isn’t thinking that far ahead yet.
“As for coaching, I don’t know yet,” Lee said via the Dallas Morning News. “I love playing. Like I said, I’m addicted to playing the game, to being a linebacker, to running and hitting.
“I respect that profession [coaching] so much, how much they work. Even though I’ve been in it a long time, that is not an easy transition. It takes a lot of work to go from a player to a coach, and right now I’m a player through and through.
“That’s my focus.”
Lee’s playing days are likely numbered but his influence, on the field and in the film room, is a huge asset to the Cowboys organization.
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