FRISCO, Texas - Football has been at the center of Sean Lee's world for pretty much his entire life, and the Dallas Cowboys defined his entire professional football career for the past 11 years.
The former Pro Bowl linebacker announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday, and Tuesday he joined Jerry Jones, Mike McCarthy, and Stephen Jones for a press conference at The Star, which was originally scheduled to address this Thursday's NFL Draft.
Lee, with a shaking voice and an emotional demeanor, expressed his gratitude to the Cowboys organization and the role that Jerry Jones has played in his life. Jones, likewise, spoke of what the franchise and locker room will miss in Lee's absence.
But perhaps the most obvious question aimed at the man whose dedication to the game of football has consumed his life was what's next?
Lee admitted that when "you pour gasoline on the fire for so long, it's hard to put it out." Even with the frustrating injuries that Lee sustained over the second half of his career, it's hard to imagine such a passionate player stepping away from the game without an idea of what his next venture might be, and considering his leadership skills, coaching certainly seems like a possibility.
"It's hard to get off that beach," said Lee, who currently lives in California with his wife.
For his part, Jones made known his vague but unsurprising intentions for Lee's post-playing career. "My dream would be that this isn't the last time we're all sitting together in this manner," Jones said, hinting at a role within the organization. "They're really just puppies" when players retire, Jones said of seeing his former players move on to the next chapter of their lives.
Lee confirmed that he wanted to get into coaching, but stressed that he didn't think it needed to happen immediately. He said that he knows how much he is going to miss playing the game of football and that it would be healthier for him to get over that feeling before trying to get right into coaching.
"That's definitely something I'm going to consider," Lee said. " If I'm ever going to get committed [like is required to coach in the NFL] I need to be fully in. Right now, I think it's better for me to step away."
Jones sounded like he was happy to be patient with Lee's next step, but made it clear that he wanted to be the first person Lee called when he was ready to get back into the NFL.
"The energy [to find a fit within the organization] is there," Jones said. "I want my name to be on the top of the list when he's listening to people. I'm a big believer that the legacy of the Cowboys can be a part of the future."
Understandably, Lee didn't want to commit to anything on Tuesday. He's certainly earned the right to have no plans at all, but he didn't seem to think that he stopped being a Dallas Cowboys this week.
"We'll figure out things as we go," Lee hinted. "I love this organization. I want to help out however I can. I know that for sure."