Cowboys' draft day stories ... LB Sean Lee

Apr 22, 2018 | by Drew Davison, Star-Telegram

Sean Lee remembers having a split household on April 23, 2010, the day the Dallas Cowboys drafted him.

His hometown team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, had the 52nd overall pick, needed linebacker depth and brought in Lee for a pre-draft visit. It all seemed to fall in place perfectly.

Except the Steelers opted for another linebacker, Virginia Tech’s Jason Worilds.

"My family was not very happy about that, so the house was kind of down and frustrated," Lee said.

A disappointed Lee went outside with his father, Craig, and brother, Conor. They didn’t know how far Lee might slide in the draft since he had a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee.

Three picks later, though, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones phoned Lee to inform him that he'd be the 55th overeall pick. The rest is history.

"I get a call from an unknown number, it was Mr. Jones, so he said I was going to be a Cowboy," Lee said. "I come into my house, tell my family. Half the house, I’m going to be a Cowboy, they started cheering. My buddies on the other end of the house are like, 'Oh, no. We have to root for the Cowboys?'"

Lee chuckled and then said: "But it was a blessing of a day. We had so much fun and just to have that process is something I dreamt of, my family dreamt of and it was fantastic."

Part of Lee would have liked to end up with the Steelers, of course. This is a guy who started “Here we go, Steelers” chants at recess. In third grade, he cried after his beloved team lost to the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX. He wore a Jerome Bettis jersey and hung a “Steel Curtain” poster in his Penn State dorm room.

By going to the Cowboys has been mutually beneficial for Lee and the Cowboys. Lee signed a $42 million contract going into the 2013 season, and has developed into an All-Pro linebacker despite battling injuries.

Worilds, meanwhile, retired after five years in the NFL.

Lee reflected back on the process going into the draft, too, saying he felt it was beneficial but always has the same message to prospects coming into the league.

"It doesn’t matter where you get in, you just have to get in and prove yourself," Lee said. "The draft is great. It’s fun, make a big deal out of it, but after it’s done, it’s about how you perform and how you play. You have to continue to work after that to work hard, to get better, to be able to fit in this league and make a name for yourself."