OXNARD, Calif. — How much does veteran linebacker Sean Lee love playing football?
How is he savoring each special moment in what is now a 10th season that wasn't always promised for him to remain with the Dallas Cowboys?
Let's us count the ways, starting with what will one day be a legendary story and a possible TedTalk on team building regarding the Cowboys' chartered flight to Los Angeles last Thursday.
Lee was already at his home in Santa Barbara, just 30 minutes from the Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, Calif.
Yet, he flew back to Dallas just to take the charter back to California to bond with his teammates.
"I did fly home to fly back out," Lee said. "Cause it is special. You get on the plane. There is something special about getting together as a group, going to camp. The energy on the plane. A lot of these guys you train with in the offseason but then you have five or six weeks off and you don't see them. Then everybody is juiced up on the plane, trash talking a little bit, having fun.
"It's the second straight year I have done that. I am always going to try to find a way to get on that charter."
Again, that the 33-year old former Pro Bowler was on the charter wasn't a given at the start of the offseason. Constant injuries and the emergence of 2018 first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch at weak side linebacker had forced him out of the starting lineup last season.
He considered retirement before taking a pay cut to return in 2019 and play strong side linebacker for the first time next to Vander Esch and middle linebacker Jaylon Smith.
Playing on the strong side meant limited snaps because he would primarily just be on the field for running downs.
Damien Wilson, who left via free agency, was the team's strong side linebacker last season. He started seven of the 16 games he played, getting 27.93% of the defensive snaps.
Traditionally, the strong side linebacker also plays on special teams, as Wilson did.
So Lee has volunteered to play special teams, something he hasn't done since his second year in the league.
"I said, 'I am trying to get out there and play. You need depth in special teams,'" Lee said. "That is part of being a linebacker, being able to play a lot of those positions. Making myself available is what I tried to do."
There are inherent injury risks with playing special teams, which makes the situation even more acute for Lee, who has never played a full 16 games and has missed 14 games the past two seasons combined due to hamstring issues.
Yet, it's all worth the risk for Lee, who wants to do whatever it takes to play and help the Cowboys win.
"I am just trying to help anyway I can," Lee said. "I like being on the field. I want to try to make an impact. You can make a lot of plays on special teams, hopefully plays that can change a game. Having an impact anyway I can, that's my goal."
Lee doesn't know how many years he has left. But he still has a thirst to play with his Cowboys teammates.
He is not taking any of it for granted.
"I think you appreciate every little moment," Lee said. "You appreciate the locker room, flying out on the charter, the first day in pads. The energy that courses through the locker room. You only get so many of those. You see some of the older guys that have been around, some of the younger guys that have been around. You have a history with guys. Being able to hang around with them and try to win a championship with them. That is a true blessing."