The two-time Pro Bowl and 2016 first-team All-Pro became one of the organization’s best defenders for the last decade and was well-loved by the team’s fanbase. He also made an obvious impact on the players around him.
Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith was one of the few lucky enough to play alongside the Dallas veteran during the latter half of his career. The 25-year-old, former second round pick was able to learn from Lee in his first few years in the NFL, which helped him blossom into a Pro Bowler in 2019.
Smith was one of the many who penned a message to Lee, thanking him for his tutelage and congratulating him on an incredible career.
“… Beyond thankful and grateful to have learned from you. Congrats on an amazing 11 year career, man,” Smith wrote to Lee on Twitter.
— Jaylon Smith (@thejaylonsmith) April 27, 2021
Lee will retire having spent his entire career with the Cowboys, after being selected in the second round of the 2010 draft. Unfortunately, injuries derailed his potential in the NFL, leaving many to wonder what ceiling he could’ve reached if he’d managed to stay healthy.
Despite missing a handful of games over the years, Lee racked up 802 tackles, 60 tackles for loss, 15 QB hits, 4.0 sacks, 14 interceptions, 30 passes defended, two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in 118 appearances for the Cowboys.
“It’s been a complete honor,” Lee told ESPN when announcing his retirement. “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, 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.”
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