Ask most NFL players what they drink before, during, or after a sporting event. The answers will vary little. Most will say water. Some might say fruity sports drinks like Powerade and Gatorade. But not Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee.
Lee beats the tune of his own drum by having a curious choice for his game-day beverage. Let’s take a closer look at what he drinks on game day.
Sean Lee has enjoyed a solid career
Lee is one of the Cowboys’ most senior team members. Playing his college football at Penn State, Dallas drafted him with the 55th overall pick in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Here are the career numbers Lee has put up so far:
- 109 games played
- Four sacks
- 14 interceptions
- Two interceptions
- 782 combined tackles (510 solo)
- 14 quarterback hits
- 30 passes defended
The NFC has selected Lee for two Pro Bowls, and the NFL made him an All-Pro once.
Pro Football Reference compiles similarity scores to compare players to other players with similar outputs during their careers. To put Sean Lee’s career into context, here are some of the players Lee compares favorably to:
- Connor Barwin
- Vontaze Burfict
- Brandon Short
- Dat Nguyen
- Rocky McIntosh
He might not end up mentioned in the same breath as Lawrence Taylor, Dick Butkus, or Ray Lewis, but Sean Lee has carved out an impressive career so far.
The Cowboys’ disappointing 2019 season
Sean Lee and the Cowboys had a 2019 they’d like to forget. After re-signing star running back Ezekiel Elliott to a big extension early this season, Dallas was expected to win the NFC East Division title. They struggled, however. Dallas started the season 3-0 but just as quickly dropped their next three. That would be a harbinger of things to come, as they finished 8-8.
The Cowboys lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in week 16. Heading into week 17, that meant they had to defeat the Washington Redskins and hope the Eagles lost to the New York Giants for a chance to win the division. While Dallas took care of business, so did Philly. The Cowboys went home after yet another mediocre season. Following the collapse, the team opted not to bring back head coach Jason Garrett in favor of former Green Bay Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy.
Lee played in all 16 games and started 13. He recorded 86 tackles (55 solo). If you take out seasons he missed significant time due to injury, that’s Lee’s lowest season tackle total since his rookie year.
Lee didn’t have his best year, but he’s still a Cowboys’ team leader. So how does he get himself ready to play on game day? What’s his drink of choice?
The one beverage Sean Lee prefers on game day
According to USA Today, Lee’s teammates like to have an occasional laugh at the “quirky” Lee’s expense. One reason for that is that his choice of game day drink is also unusual: he likes black coffee:
“At first glance, Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee’s gameday water bottle looks like those of his teammates. The green-and-orange Gatorade squirt bottle isn’t ‘labeled big enough,’ Lee says, so he understands how teammates on a frenetic NFL sideline might miss the word “coffee” scribbled atop that label.
During the Cowboys’ 44-21 win over the Rams last week, defensive tackle Antwaun Woods became the unknowing victim of a ‘terrible’ mouthful of black coffee when he sought water.”
Lee’s drink will definitely leave him — and his unsuspecting teammates who have a sip – staying alert. But is Lee crazy to drink coffee, or does it actually help him? According to NPR, the caffeine boost one gets from drinking coffee can help bolster athletic performance — just “don’t overdo it.” One exercise physiologist interviewed for the story said, “Of all the legal supplements an athlete could take, it has the biggest effect on performance.”
Maybe Lee is onto something.