The Dallas Cowboys season ended nearly a week ago and one of the team's biggest names, Linebacker Sean Lee, finds himself at a crossroads in his career. The days of him being mentioned with the best players at his position are long gone and he now has to decide on his football future.
In 2019, Lee finally played in 16 games for the first time in his career and registered nearly 90 tackles as the team's third linebacker. However, 2020 was more of the norm for Lee as he missed seven games due to sports hernia surgery. At 34 years of age, Lee is a young man in terms of everyday living, but in the football world he's considered to be an older guy, and when factoring in his injury history, each season becomes more difficult.
When asked about his future and if 2020 was the end, Lee was honest about where is physically and appreciative of his blessings.
“I love this team. I love this organization. I love playing the game,” Lee said, via the team's website. “As you get older, it is what it is. You get older and you question things. I still think I have a lot to give, but at the same point, you acknowledge as you get older, physically, things change. I’ll take time, I’ll talk to the family and really think it through. I’ve been so lucky to be part of this. I love all my teammates. To be able to play has been a complete dream. And to give it up is not something that’s easy. You want to win a Super Bowl. You love playing, you love practicing day in and day out. It’s a harder decision than I thought it would be. So we’ll see. We’ll see what happens, and I’ll take some time. But I’ve been so, so lucky and so blessed.”
Lee played in just nine games this season. However, his role did increase in the final three games. After Leighton Vander Esch went down with a high ankle sprain in the second half against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 15, Lee played 27 snaps. That increased to 30 and 50 snaps in the final two games of the season. Unfortunately, he would register a career-low 20 tackles in his 11th campaign.
It would be easy for Lee to make a rushed or emotional decision right after the season ended. However, Lee is taking the methodical approach, and will weigh all the options in front of him as year 12 in the NFL looks him in the eye.
“I’ve gotten great advice,” Lee said. “You can’t make decisions in-season or right after the season. You need the perspective of getting away from it further. And you think about yourself physically, you think about yourself mentally. And then role-wise, can you still help the team? Can you go out on the field and play a role where you know that you can make sure that you’re helping the team win? So you have to check all those boxes and know it 100% before you make a commitment to come back. So that’ll be the process I go through. Can I help us? Physically, can I continue to do this? Mentally, am I ready? You really look deep into those before make a commitment.”
Lee has found his way back to the field time and time again no matter what injuries he's dealt with. At some point though, it comes down to whether or not you can physically and mentally get yourself to a place to continue, which is the dilemma he's currently facing.
Only time will tell where “The General” goes from here.