Former Penn State linebacker Sean Lee retires from NFL

Nittany Nation

ARLINGTON, TX – DECEMBER 26: Sean Lee #50 of the Dallas Cowboys closes in on Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions during the second half at AT&T Stadium on December 26, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Sean Lee announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday. The linebacker played 11 seasons for the Dallas Cowboys.

A Pittsburgh native, he played his college football for Penn State. The Cowboys selected Lee in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He was named to two Pro Bowls in 2015 and 2016.

“It’s been a complete honor,” Lee told ESPN. “I’ve been blessed to play for the incredible Jones family, with such great coaches and teammates that I love like brothers. I loved every minute playing and tried to pour my heart and soul into winning and helping my teammates at all costs.”

“To say the injuries were frustrating would be an understatement, but the support I received through them all was humbling and the lessons I learned battling adversity will last a lifetime. There are always regrets, but I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish and I leave this game grateful.”

The 34-year-old had 995 tackles in his career; that’s eighth in team history. Over his career, he averaged 8.4 tackles per game, which also places him in the top 10 in Cowboys history.

He also tacked on 14 career interceptions, including two pick-6s. He had five fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, 59 tackles for loss and four sacks.

Throughout his career, Lee struggled to stay healthy. He was sidelined with injuries to his wrist, toe, knee, neck, hamstring, core and suffered concussions. He missed the entire 2014 season.

In 2020, he played nine games after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia in September.

Time at Penn State

Lee played five seasons for the Nittany Lions after the linebacker missed his senior season due to a right knee injury. He was named a co-captain in his final season.

“The highly-skilled and passionate linebacker has exhibited tremendous work ethic and attitude throughout his career and his rehabilitation was no different, providing him with a chance to participate in all non-contact work during spring practice,” the team’s website says of Lee.

Lee’s junior season brought some buzz in 2007, posting a record 138 tackles to earn All-Big Ten and Defensive MVL honors in the Valero Alamo Bowl. The 138 tackles ranked him No. 5 on the Penn State season list. He was selected a first-team All-American by Pro Football Weekly in 2007.

Lee was a graduate of Upper St. Clair HS where he played football and basketball.

Penn State’s website described Lee as a focused competitor, and “a playmaker who brings tremendous desire and tenacity to every snap. He is one of the squad’s most personable and service-oriented members, participating in the THON Make-A-Wish program, student-athlete reading program, Habitat for Humanity and the Pennsylvania Special Olympics State Summer Games, in addition to other community service activities.”

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