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Sean Patrick Lee[1] (born July 22, 1986) is an American football linebacker in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys. He played college football at Penn State. He was selected by the Cowboys in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft

Sean Lee
refer to caption
Lee in 2015
No. 50 – Dallas Cowboys
Personal information
Born: (1986-07-22) July 22, 1986 (age 33)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:245 lb (111 kg)
Career information
High school:Upper St. Clair
(Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania)
College:Penn State
NFL Draft:2010 / Round: 2 / Pick: 55
Career history
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 9, 2018
Total tackles:695
Forced fumbles:2
Fumble recoveries:4
Defensive touchdowns:2
Player stats at

Early lifeEdit

He is the son of Craig Lee and Geralyn Lee of Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania. Lee's older brother Conor was the placekicker for the University of Pittsburgh and his sister Alexandra was a student athlete at Upper St. Clair High School. Sean is also a grandson of Federal Judge Donald J. Lee of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

High schoolEdit

Lee was a multi-sport star at Upper St. Clair High School outside Pittsburgh, he was a three-year starter at point guard in basketball, averaging 21.2 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists as a senior, and winning a district title.[2] In football, Lee rushed for 1,240 yards and 21 touchdowns while registering 95 tackles and four interceptions as a safety for an 11-1 squad his senior year.[2]

College careerEdit

After graduating from Upper St. Clair High School in Upper St. Clair Township, Pennsylvania, Lee went on to play college football at Penn State. At this time he was rooming with fellow high school star Douglas Rheam of Canon McMillan. Heading into 2008, Lee was a starting outside linebacker for coach Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions for two consecutive seasons. In his junior year he was 2nd team all Big Ten, finishing second on the team in tackles with 138. He had a season high 17 tackles versus Illinois, and registered more than 10 tackles in all but three games. He also had two interceptions and three forced fumbles on the season.

In April 2008, Lee tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a non-contact drill at spring practice.[3] Despite being forced to take a medical redshirt for the 2008 season, Lee's teammates elected him a team captain that season.[4] While rehabbing, he opted to serve as an undergraduate assistant coach, participating in every practice and wearing a headset on the sidelines during games that season.[2]

Lee's teammates again elected him team captain prior to the 2009 season.[5]

College awards and honorsEdit

Professional careerEdit

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert jump Broad BP
6 ft 2 18 in
(1.88 m)
236 lb
(107 kg)
4.72 s 1.61 s 2.63 s 4.16 s 6.89 s 37.5 in
(0.95 m)
10 ft 0 in
(3.05 m)
24 reps
All values from NFL Combine/Penn State's Pro Day


The Dallas Cowboys selected Lee in the second round (55th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft. The Cowboys traded their second round (59th overall) and their fourth round picks (125th overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft to the Philadelphia Eagles in order to move up from to 55th overall in the second round to select Lee. It was speculated that his considerable fall from the first round was due to his history of injuries, that included a torn ACL on the right knee and partially torn ACL on the left knee during his last two seasons at Penn State, and through 2017, injuries have indeed prevented Lee from playing a full season's slate of NFL games. Lee was the fourth linebacker selected in the draft, behind Rolando McClain (first round, 8th overall), Sean Weatherspoon (first round, 19th overall), and Daryl Washington (second round, 47th overall).

On June 23, 2010, the Cowboys signed Lee to a four-year, $3.49 million contract that included $1.71 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $1.20 million.[8] He was bothered by nagging injuries in training camp; consequently, he failed to see a lot of action on the field.[9]

He earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week and Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week honors for his December 5, 2010, performance versus Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, in which he recorded the first two interceptions of his pro career, including one he returned for a touchdown and one in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal.[10][11]


Promoted to starting inside linebacker in 2011, Lee thrived immediately in new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's scheme.[12] In the opening game versus the New York Jets, Lee intercepted Mark Sanchez to record the third interception of his career. His key interception of Rex Grossman and fumble recovery in the final minute of the Cowboys’ Monday Night Football game versus the Washington Redskins were crucial in the 18-16 comeback.[13]

By week three, Lee had a team-leading 36 tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, a tackle for a loss, and three pass breakups,[12] earning him NFC Defensive Player of the Month honors.[12] He was the first Cowboys player in franchise history to win the award.[12]

In the 7th game of the 2011 season against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Field, Lee suffered a dislocated left wrist in the first quarter when he hit his hand against Michael Vick's helmet, but opted against having season ending surgery.[14][15][16] After 7 games, Lee led the team in total tackles with 51, 15 more tackles than the next leading tackler, Gerald Sensabaugh with 36 total tackles. Lee also ranked first on the team with 3 interceptions, the only player on the team through the first seven games with more than one interception. In the eighth game of the season, Sean Lee was inactive due to the wrist injury which he sustained the previous week.[17]


Lee ended up having a breakout season, becoming one of the defensive leaders, leading the team with 131 tackles and tying for the team lead in interceptions (four) and tackles for loss (eight). He also became only the second linebacker ever to have intercepted both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.[2] He had an excellent game against the New York Giants with 10 tackles, 2 assists and a forced fumble on David Wilson. He also registered 14 tackles against the Seattle Seahawks in the second game of the season, tying him with Lee Roy Jordan for the 41-year-old team record for most tackles in a game. Against the Carolina Panthers, Lee injured his right big toe and was placed on injured reserve.


On August 24, 2013, the Dallas Cowboys signed Lee to a six-year, $42 million contract extension that included $16.13 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $10 million.[8]

During the Week 4 game against the San Diego Chargers, Lee had 18 tackles and returned an interception 52 yards for his 2nd career touchdown.[18] During the month of October, Lee led the Cowboys with 52 tackles (3 for loss) and 3 interceptions. One of his 2 interceptions against the Detroit Lions in week 8 included a career-high 74 yard return. His strong performances led to Lee being named NFC Defensive Player of the Month.[19]


On May 27, Lee tore his ACL for the third time in his career after being blocked to the ground by rookie offensive lineman Zack Martin during an organized team activity (OTA). There was some controversy about the injury, because OTAs are supposed to be non-contact.[20] On July 2, he was placed on the injured reserve list and was replaced by Rolando McClain.[21]


After the emergence of Rolando McClain at middle linebacker the previous year, Lee was moved to weakside linebacker to protect him from direct hits by the offensive line and take advantage of his playmaking abilities. In the second game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he had 16 tackles (2 for loss), two passes defensed, an interception in the end zone, and sealed the 20–10 win with an onside kick recovery, although he also suffered a concussion. His performance earned him NFC Defensive Player of the Week.[22] On December 7 against the Washington Redskins, he posted 13 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack.

He finished with 128 tackles (led the team), 2.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss (led the team), 6 quarterback pressures, one interception and 5 passes defensed. He appeared in 14 games, missing one contest because of a hamstring injury and the other because of a concussion. Lee was named to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement for Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston.


Lee helped lead the Cowboys defense to a 13-3 record in 2016. He was second only to Bobby Wagner in tackles, and named First-team All-Pro as a linebacker for the first time in his career. [23] Lee was named to his second straight Pro Bowl as an injury replacement for Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly.[24]


Lee was ranked 79th on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2017.[25]


On February 13th, 2019, Sean announced he plans on returning for his 9th season.

Career statisticsEdit

NFL career statistics
Season Tackles Fumbles Interceptions
Year Team GP GS Comb Solo Asst Sack FF FR Yds TD Int Yds Avg Lng TD PD
2010 DAL 14 0 25 20 5 0.0 1 0 0 0 2 44 22.0 31 1 2
2011 DAL 15 15 103 69 34 0.0 0 1 0 0 4 87 21.8 37 0 7
2012 DAL 6 6 57 36 21 0.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.0 0 0 3
2013 DAL 11 11 99 68 31 0.0 0 1 10 0 4 174 43.5 74 1 6
2014 DAL Did not play due to injury
2015 DAL 14 14 128 76 52 2.5 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.0 0 0 5
2016 DAL 15 15 145 93 52 0.0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 1
2017 DAL 11 11 101 70 31 0 0 0 0 0 1 9 9.0 9 0 1
2018 DAL 7 5 30 15 15 0.5 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Career 93 77 688 447 241 3.0 2 4 10 0 13 314 24.2 74 2 26


  1. ^ "Sean Lee Pro-Football-Reference Profile".
  2. ^ a b c d Sullivan, Jeff. "Student of the Game". Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "#45 Sean Lee". Penn State. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved July 10, 2007.
  4. ^ "Nittany Lions Announce Captains for 2008 Season". Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved April 29, 2008.
  5. ^ "Clark and Lee Elected 2009 Nittany Lion Co-Captains". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. May 19, 2009.
  6. ^ "Lee Earns Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week Accolades". Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. September 20, 2009.
  7. ^ "Penn State's Sean Lee Gets Big 10 Honor". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. September 21, 2009.
  8. ^ a b " Sean Lee contract". Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Florio, Mike (December 8, 2010). "Sean Lee is the NFC defensive player of the week".
  12. ^ a b c d Graziano, Dan (September 28, 2011). "Sean Lee is NFC Defensive Player of Month". ESPN.
  13. ^ Orsborn, Tom (September 28, 2011). "Cowboys' Lee named NFC Defensive Player of the Month". San Antonio Express-News.
  14. ^ Ellis, Josh (November 2, 2011). "Uncertain Lee - Lee Doubtful Sunday; No Surgery Planned". Archived from the original on November 3, 2011. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  15. ^ NFL Playbook Staff (October 31, 2011). "Playbook: Sean Lee's injury hurts Cowboy D". Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  16. ^ Nick Eatman (October 31, 2011). "Game-Day Notebook - Notebook: Wrist Injury Could Sideline Lee". Archived from the original on November 2, 2011. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  17. ^ Rob Phillips (November 6, 2011). "Lee, McBriar Inactive; Romo The Holder". Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  18. ^ Archer, Todd. "Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee laments late touchdown". NFL Nation. ESPN. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  19. ^ Kavner, Rowan. "Sean Lee Named October Defensive Player Of Month". Dallas Cowboys. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  20. ^ "Cowboys, Zack Martin will face scrutiny over Sean Lee injury". Pro Football Talk. May 27, 2014. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
  21. ^ "Report: MRI confirms torn ACL for Sean Lee". Pro Football Talk. May 27, 2014. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
  22. ^ Phillips, Rob. "After Posting 14 Tackles, Lee Named NFC Defensive Player Of The Week". Dallas Cowboys. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  23. ^ "Three rookies, Matt Ryan among players named to All-Pro team". January 6, 2017.
  24. ^ "Cowboys LB Sean Lee replaces Panthers' Luke Kuechly on Pro Bowl roster". January 17, 2017.
  25. ^ NFL Top 100 Players of 2017 - No. 79 Sean Lee

External linksEdit