ARLINGTON - Sean Lee doesn't need much prompting to exclaim, "I love my team and my teammates.'' But while that affection may go on forever, the Dallas Cowboys veteran linebacker knows his on-field career will not.
“As you get older in your career, I think every year you take time in the offseason to evaluate where you are,” said Lee, 33, on the eve of today's regular-season finale against Washington. “Being 10 years in, I think it’s natural for all players, especially at 10 years, to say, ‘OK, where am I at physically? What’s the right thing to do for me and my family?'''
Lee's situation this offseason (when his contract ends) mirrors last offseason, when he briefly contemplated retirement before coming back for a season that's featured him playing in all 16 games. He re-upped with Dallas at a greatly reduced rate, and is likely to prepare to do the same as he slides into a role behind Jaylon Smith and, assuming good health, Leighton Vander Esch.
The love for the Cowboys and the sacrifice for the Cowboys are reasons why owner Jerry Jones has elevated Lee into his "top five people in the NFL'' conversation. Jerry's long mentioned Jason Witten in that regard. Now Lee is in the elite group ... which of course leads to speculation that Lee has a Cowboys coaching job in his future.
"They both have the skill, the knowledge, they have the internal pursuit, if you will, of contributing success,'' Jerry told 105.3 The Fan when asked about the pair as future staffers. "They both have that. You’ve got two individuals that are rare in that you’ve got a template to look at in how they act in crisis, how they act when they have adversity, how they think by virtue of them having the careers that they’ve had … I really think I could take those two guys and put them on my hand and they’d be in the top five. I’ve said this about Jason, I might even include Sean Lee in there with him. Of all the network executives, commissioners, fellow owners, players, coaches that I’ve met in the NFL, those two would be in my top five.”
Witten and Lee both speak openly about wanting to pursue coaching in the future.
But first things first. Lee will make a 13th start today, working to add to his total of 83 tackles, one sack, four deflections, and an interception and working to have it all add up to a win, that coupled with a possible Eagles loss at the Giants, will propel Dallas into the NFL Playoffs.
"I’ll do that in the offseason for sure,'' Lee said of career contemplation. "But that’s going to come whenever that comes.''
"General Lee's'' immediate plan? Delay that decision by helping his beloved Cowboys win today.