The Dallas Cowboys are getting younger as a football team. As has recently been noted, they only have three players on their roster that are over 30 years of age, and two of those are specialists in the kicking game (L.P. Ladouceur and Dan Bailey). That leaves only one regular on the roster who is on the other side of 30. That would be linebacker Sean Lee.
The old man on the roster used to be Jason Witten. The player known as the Senator or Gold Jacket Witt served two functions on the team. He was the starting tight end and he was the unquestioned leader in the locker room. Who will fill in for him at tight end is still very much a question. Who will fill in for him in the locker room is also a question, but it looks like the “new” old man on the roster, Sean Lee, is auditioning for the job.
When Jason Witten decided that his 15th year in the NFL was his last, Lee understood he had to take on more responsibility.
”There is no question,” Lee said after a minicamp practice last month, “that I need to step up because he’s gone.”
Lee already has the respect of some of the younger guys.
During a rookie luncheon last month, five of Dallas’ draft picks were asked to name the hardest-working player on the roster.
Three of them said Lee.
”I think it’s a responsibility for me, similar to how it was for Jason Witten,” Lee said. “Jason kind of set the tone for us. Not only did he set the pace leadership-wise, but he also knew that you had to pass the leadership down and you had to be gracious and try to help guys. That’s something I am really trying to do also.
”If you want to have a great team, the leaders got to bring guys in. You can lead by example, but you’ve also got to get the young guys working the right way too.”
After watching All or Nothing, you can see why Lee is considered one of the hardest working guys on the team. The scene at the end of the series where the Cowboys have their end of season meeting and after it concludes Lee heads straight to the film room to start preparing for next season is indicative of Lee’s work ethic.
The issue with Lee has always been injury. We’ll see how he does on that front in 2018. But there is little doubt he will be one of the new leaders on the team. But he will have help. Already some of the younger guys are stepping up, along with some of the stars.
“I think there’s more guys than you would think that challenge people with intensity day in and day out,” Lee said. “I look across at the offensive side, and Dak does that, and Zeke does that; the whole entire offensive line does that. If you look at our defense, Ty Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence. I’m a guy who likes to do that. I think that’s something we pride ourselves on by challenging each other day in and day out, working hard together and working hard against each other.”
In the end, though, it won’t really matter unless the team finally reaches their ultimate goal. And on that front, Lee knows his time is running out.
“It definitely gives you a sense of urgency,” Lee said. “For me, we need to make a move now, win now, and my impact has to be greater than it ever has been.
”As you start getting at the end of your career, you’re like, ‘We have to accomplish this ultimate goal.’ I’ve talked to guys who haven’t won a championship, and they feel like there’s something missing in their career.”