ORLANDO – Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee enjoyed another outstanding NFL season and was rightfully named to his second Pro Bowl as an injury replacement, playing this weekend with the Cowboys coaching staff and six of his fellow teammates.
But Lee, who recently completed his seventh year with the Sliver and Blue, said he was using this week as both recreation and recovery. His wife and family were coming to Orlando to do the full Walt Disney World experience while Lee is using his final NFL football game next season as recovery from the Cowboys sudden and sad end to the 2016 playoffs.
"This gets us out of a hole," Lee explained after a brief practice at the Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports facility. "The last 10 days have been pretty tough for us. We had a great season, but we didn't accomplish what we set out to do, win a championship.
"We thought we had a pretty good chance this year, but it didn't happen, so that's been hard."
Equally hard was that the Green Bay Packers, who kicked the Cowboys out of the playoffs at AT&T Stadium with a final-second field goal, were defeated last week by the Atlanta Falcons. So when Lee returns home next weekend, not only will he not be involved in the Super Bowl in Houston, neither will the Packers. That's why Disney and Universal Studios are as much a part of Lee's game-week preparations as the extensive film study he would usually be doing before Sunday's game at Camping World Stadium.
"They're pretty excited about Disney, that's for sure, but I'm looking forward to the game as well," Lee said. "It will be one more chance get out with the coaches and our players this year. There are some guys I have looked up to for a long time in this year and to finally have a chance to play with them is pretty great. It gives me somebody I can continue to pattern myself after."
Because the Cowboys got beat in the divisional round two weeks ago, the Dallas coaching staff was selected to coach the NFC team while the Kansas City Chiefs staff is manning the AFC squad.
[embeddedad0]"I know what [defensive coordinator] coach [Rod] Marinelli expects and he doesn't want to take any games off, any days off, any plays off," Lee said. "It will be good to play one more game."
This year Lee earned his All-Pro honors for the first time after compiling 152 total tackles from his starting linebacker spot with one fumble recovery. But more importantly to himself and the legion of Cowboys fans, he was able to stay healthy during the 2016 campaign after missing parts of the last several seasons. He did miss one game's worth of action, but it was not due to an injury of any sort. It was the fact that the Cowboys clinched the NFC East title early this year, which allowed Lee to sit out the meaningless regular-season finale at Philadelphia.
"Going into the season I thought we had a good plan with the trainers and the coaches," Lee said. "It came together nicely with the season unfolding and as you know some of that is out of our control as well.'
A look at highlights from day two of Pro Bowl Week, including the NFC team photo and practice at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex.