Pro athletes are a proud bunch, but if there’s one thing that can alter their decision to play hurt—especially in a meaningless game during the last week of a lost season—you would think it’s millions of dollars.
For Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee, though, he takes his profession REALLY seriously, and he proved that by choosing to sit out the Boys’ game against the Washington Redskins on Sunday because he didn’t believe he would be helpful to his team.
At first, that decision might not seem too big. But when you realize that the choice ended up costing Lee $2 million because of falling just short of an incentive in his contract, it’s a GIGANTIC decision that speaks volumes to the dude’s character.
According to Michael Florek of The Dallas Morning News, had Lee played Sunday, he would have stayed above the threshold of playing 80 percent of Dallas’ snaps, giving him that $2 million.
Here’s what Lee had to say about his bold move, per The Dallas Morning News:
“Any time with a hamstring if it bites at all you know that it’s probably not going to warm up and feel better,” Lee said. “As I kept warming up and running, it didn’t feel better.”
Lee then went in and told the Cowboys staff he couldn’t play, voluntary giving up $2 million.
“It was me who decided to not play,” Lee said. “It didn’t feel like I was going to be effective enough to help the football team. Thursday on 7-on-7, (I) didn’t warm up well enough and kind of tweaked the hamstring. The problem was it was a little too close to the game.
“If I had a couple extra days I probably could’ve played, but it was completely my decision. I felt like I was not going to be effective and not going to be able to help the team.”
Going even more in-depth, Lee said he had too much love for his teammates to play when not ready, adding:
“I’m not going to disrespect my teammates and my coaches and be out there not playing the right way,” Lee said.
And if you’re wondering if Lee regrets the choice not to play and get a serious cash-out, it sure doesn’t sound like it:
“I have a fantastic contract,” Lee said. “The Jones’ have been extremely gracious. They’ve been very patient with me because of injuries in the past, so I’m very grateful to have the contract I have. To me, I’m going to be playing for the Cowboys next year, a great franchise, making a ton of money, so I’m not too worried.”
There are a lot of things athletes get a bad wrap for or do that get unnoticed, so it’s pretty cool to see Sean Lee make such a big-time sacrifice that most people wouldn’t even think about doing.
Oh, and the fact that Dallas looked lost defensively and trailed 21-0 after the first quarter only speaks volumes about Lee, because it would’ve been easy for him to just go out there and tank it like the rest of his mates appeared to do.