Darren Woodson Travels to Oxnard for Special Meeting with Sean Lee
Tuesday afternoon on the practice field in Oxnard, about thirty minutes following the afternoon workout, two of the greatest defensive players in Cowboys history are gathered to talk a little X’s and O’s. One is the all-time leading tackler in team history, Ring of Honor member Darren Woodson. The other is team co-captain and All Pro linebacker Sean Lee.
Woodson traveled to Oxnard to talk with Sean and tape a feature for ESPN Countdown. When Woodson, a longtime analyst for ESPN, was given the assignment to travel to training camps and tape one-on-one segments with the NFL players he most respects, Woodson chose Sean Lee.
Lee was the second segment that Woodson taped (he was at Falcons’ camp for a segment with WR Julio Jones), but that was just for scheduling purposes. Woodson said Sean Lee was his number one target.
“Sean Lee was my first choice,” Woodson said, admitting that he had spent the weekend at Falcons’ camp taping a segment with superstar receiver Julio Jones. “No offense to Julio, but the defensive engine runs through Sean Lee. On offense, you see Jason Witten as a key to success on that side of the ball. But for the defense, the true leader is Sean. If the Cowboys are going to have any success this year, the defense has to step up, and he’s the catalyst. He’s the one guy I wanted to talk to.”
What were the main talking points?
“I wanted to know what Sean did to get better this offseason,” notes Woodson. “How did he make his teammates better this offseason? What are some of the things they have to work on? What are things they feel they’ll be successful with this year? I wanted to pick his brain.”
The fact that Woodson wants to “pick the brain” of Lee is the ultimate compliment to Lee. Woodson remains one of the most respected players in the history of the team, and one of the great defensive backs of his generation.
Woodson is one of the very few people in the world who can understand the responsibilities that Lee is shouldering this season.
“I was that guy, years ago, who was in Sean Lee’s position as the captain of the defense. A lot of things ran through me. I know what it feels like. I know they call Sean ‘General Lee’ and there’s a reason for it. He’s spectacular in terms of his preparation. I’ve got a lot of respect for the man. He’s a true student of the game who understands how offenses want to attack him.”
*Writer’s Note: when visiting with Darren Woodson for this story, I had to tease him a little bit. I told him not to tell Sean too many of his secrets. After all, Sean has 706 career tackles and is creeping up on Darren’s team record of 1,350 tackles. “If anyone breaks the record, it will be Sean!,” Darren said with a laugh.