IRVING, Texas -- Sean Lee was 8 or 9 years old when he first met Bill Belichick.
One of Lee’s coaches growing up in Pittsburgh went to college with Belichick, who was then coaching the Cleveland Browns, so he was able to tag along to watch a practice.
“I was a Steeler fan, yeah, but anytime you can get around at that age, NFL players, you looked up to [them],” Lee said. “So being around that was something great. That was right at the age I started to play football too so that was kind of something that pushed me into football and something that made me start to love the game.”
Not that Lee knew much of what he was seeing -- “A little young to understand it,” he said -- or who he was seeing in Belichick.
“Obviously I know exactly who he is now. Sure,” Lee said.
Like he did with Jason Witten earlier in the week, Belichick raved about Lee.
“Really, Sean is probably one of the most instinctive linebackers in the league -- maybe as instinctive as probably anybody I could think of,” Belichick said. “He’s got a great nose for the ball, has a good anticipation in both the running game and the passing game, shows up in the right place at the right time, just really knows what’s happening a lot of times before it occurs. The interception he had against Philadelphia is one of the best plays you’ll see, trying to just turn around, find the guy, go to him, make the interception, but he’s made those plays throughout his career. He’s got whatever it is -- 12 or something like that career interceptions.
“That’s a lot for a linebacker, especially given the number of games he’s played … He’s a heck of a football player, really smart, really instinctive and very productive. It seems like he makes 10 tackles every game. I mean, I don’t know what the numbers are, but he’s in on a lot of plays and he’s got his hands on a lot of balls.”