Sean Lee injury could spark league, union investigation regarding OTA contact


Regardless of whether the ACL in Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee’s knee snapped before or after he was blocked during a non-contact offseason NFL practice session by rookie first-rounder Zack Martin, the moment proved once again that non-contact offseason NFL practice sessions routinely entail contact.

While the block may have gone unnoticed if Lee hadn’t been injured, the outcome necessarily puts the incident on the radar screen of the NFL and the NFLPA union.

The league hasn’t said that the Cowboys specifically will be investigated. Instead, the NFL’s position is that every team can and will be investigated, at any time.

“Our office routinely checks off-season workout programs to ensure compliance with the rules by all clubs,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement initially provided to the Associated Press and forwarded to PFT.

The NFLPA has not yet addressed the situation.  Per a source familiar with the union’s standard procedures, they take action in response to complaints from players and/or inquiries from the media.  If the NFLPA has concerns, the issue will be raised with the league.  Obviously egregious infractions are simple; the situation is addressed and discipline if any is imposed.  A resolution becomes more challenging where a dispute emerges between the league and the union regarding whether and to what extent the rules were violated.

While contact of some sort remains inevitable in offseason workouts, a specific instance that appears to exceed the bright-line “no live contact” rules of the labor deal invites either an inquiry from the league or a complaint to the league from the NFLPA.

In this case, it won’t be a surprise if the union initiates an inquiry.  Merely doing so will put all teams on notice that, even if it’s impossible to keep guys who are trying to win jobs, keep jobs, rise up the depth chart, and/or hold their current rung on the ladder from treating football practice like, you know, football practice, a conscientious effort must be made to keep live contact out of offseason workouts.

57 responses to “Sean Lee injury could spark league, union investigation regarding OTA contact

  1. Sad to see him go down, a total quality player. This stuff happens unfortunately.

    Remember when Brady went down in a game, untouched as well (remember, all the new QB rules signed to protect him?)

  2. There was less contact than you see in pass interference calls. It’s a non-issue.

  3. Now a football player falls down and goes boom ,,and its investigated we’re doomed !

  4. The whole thing is a joke. Yes, the players are more talented than in years past, but basic execution is lacking.

    It is no coincidence the downfall in football 101 coincides with the shortage of practicing.

    There needs to be negotiations made to increase real practice time.

  5. No way. Guys get hurt paying and practicing all the time. Friend blew his acl in softball

  6. The Cowboys clearly violated the “spirit of the OTA contact rules”. Quite frankly, I think they should lose draft picks.

    – John Mara

  7. I don’t know why this so difficult. All they need to do is have a union rep and a league rep at the OTA’s to monitor practices. How difficult is that?

  8. Does this not seem like a salient point?

    “Regardless of whether the ACL in Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee’s knee snapped before or after he was blocked during a non-contact offseason NFL practice session by rookie first-rounder Zack Martin”

  9. What it should spark is an investigation into whether this whole idea of ‘non-contact’, ‘padless’ practice is a stupid idea, tho well intentioned, that causes more injuries than a padded practice, not less.

    Lee’s injury is an example. He was injured because he was trying to avoid contact, not because there was contact. As described by video review and witnesses the contact was caused BY the injury, the injury was NOT caused by the contact. His knee went when he was trying to avoid contact, not because he had contact. The concept of not wearing pads so there won’t be contact is admirable, but, it doesn’t work in practice.

    Trying to avoid contact when you’re running plays causes players to perform unnatural movements. sudden stop, starts, that contribute to injury. If Lee was padded and played through the play (a screen pass) he most likely would not have been injured.

  10. Let’s face it..the Glass Man would have gone down sooner or later. It just happened to be sooner than sooner. Time enough to find a real football player. Murica’s a Team!

  11. no contact?? i wonder what the coach’s from the 60’s and 70’s would think of the no contact rules? you know back when the players were highly overpaid??

  12. Do we forget that Sean Lee had knee ligaments made of gummy worms and duck tape. This was going to happen sooner or later.

  13. It looked to me more like he got hurt AFTER contact, not before. I agree with Mara (ha ha) take a few draft picks away from Jerry for violating the rules!

  14. I watched the video and after Lee over ran the screen pass he planted his left leg to cut back inside toward the ball carrier. That’s when 300 pounds of Martin crushed Lee from the right like an aluminum can.

    Of course he didn’t intentionally hurt him but I’m convinced that didn’t work in Lee’s favor at all. I’m surprised they didn’t appear to be wearing a knee brace that may have helped.

    An un fortunate accident for sure but seems so unnecessary.

  15. reword the rules to light or limited contact. if you say NO contact then there isn’t a gray area. if Sean Lee never plays a down again,be assured his lawyer would bring that up.

  16. People laugh at Chip Kelly with his fly swatters and remote control vehicles but there is nothing in the CBA about robots. Who’s laughing now? Everyone but Cowboy fans I guess. Those fly swatters do look silly.

  17. And when you thought the cowboys could not get worse they just did !!! And that was the best player on defense this season. Now I am very upset this man got hurt in this should have been very little contact. But from what was said a rookie played harder than he should of trying to show up and make a play you can’t blame the young man and the players got on him. But fact is OOO it gotten ugly for the cowboys and a ugly season is upon them. That said when you thought they could not get worse they just did LOL!!!! Bags will be on the heads in cowboy land this year!!

  18. Zack Martin is a rookie. Do rookies have a lot voluntary, non-contact practices in college? Not likely. If the union investigates anything, they add should look in the mirror and ask themselves if they’re adequately preparing these rookies to be the pampered millionaires that they’re about to become.

  19. Touch football, I love it. but seriously…
    The CBA is good thru 2021 so no changes coming anytime soon. But there should be. Even “voluntary” workouts open players up to media/fan criticism. So stupid.

  20. What would it hurt???? Take a look at Vince Young…..
    There are a lot worse QBs on NFL rosters that has never had the success Vince Young has had …(NFL Rookie of the Year, 2 Pro Bowls, Playoff experience and Mobility). Vince has a career winning record of 31-19…
    He can help this team…even if it’s just upgrading the quarterback pool…

  21. All you idiots claiming the cowboys broke rules watch the play. Lee over ran the play as he tried to get his footing to go back the the play he slipped I to martins path. Martin didn’t really block him it was more like a two hand touch. Either way all you monkeys saying that there is no contact need to wake up its is impossible to run a play and not expect there to be some kind of contact and that’s all it was it wasn’t a block

  22. Can we overreact any more? Lee’s foot planted and Martin accidentally took him out when he stopped.

    My gosh! When did football get soft?

  23. why is every surprised when a glass LB gets hurt. Glass is going to break when it make contact. this guy is always running into someone and breaking something. Time to move on to the CFL. A bigger field might help him not run into people

  24. Let’s see here. They open a “voluntary” camp and all but demand everyone show up. There are rookies looking to impress coaches by playing hard. Guys don’t have pads yet are going all out full speed. Gee, who would have thought that contact happens and that injuries would occur?

    Also, injuries are going to occur with or without contact. A draft prospect blew out his knee running drills with the Saints (who didn’t even draft him).

  25. All I heard from cowgirl fans was, “RG Knee, RG Knee.” I’m not going to say, “Sean Knee”…….what…too soon?

  26. Lee wasn’t touted to be the second coming of the Doomsday Defense as RG3 was sold as the second coming of Sammy Baugh. Our defense will just continue to suck and Romo will get blamed for it.

  27. Sean Lee loves the game of football and acts like a true professional on and off the field. It really sucks to see a guy who bleeds both football and class battle serious injuries like this which are preventing him from playing the game he loves. My heart goes out to the guy. Keep your head up Sean. Regardless of what happens in the coming months, you’v already done a lot for the organization.

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