Found January 22, 2012 on Fox Sports Southwest:
Dallas Cowboys linebacker and Penn State alumnus Sean Lee issued a statement Sunday praising his legendary college coach, Joe Paterno, who died of lung cancer earlier in the day. Paterno, 85, coached Penn State for 46 years and won 409 games, a Division I record, and two national titles. He had been diagnosed with the disease two months ago, not long after being fired by Penn State in the fallout of a child sex abuse scandal surrounding former assistant Jerry Sandusky. Lee played for the college football icon from 2005-09 and earned second team All-Big Ten honors. Lee grew up in the Pittsburgh area and was also an Academic All-Big Ten selection. "Coach Paterno had a great impact on my life, not only as a player, but as a person," Lee said in a statement issued by the Cowboys. "He coached with an incredible amount of passion and integrity, and I am very proud to have played for one of the greatest coaches in sports. "My prayers go out to him and his family. Thank you Coach Paterno for the profound impact you had. You will never be forgotten." Earlier this month, Lee issued another statement rallying support for Paterno's successor, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien. A number of prominent former Penn State players had criticized the hiring process. They argued that former players should have had more input and that the choice should have been someone with Penn State ties. Lee said in the statement that he, too, had hoped a current assistant would be promoted to head coach to preserve Paterno's traditions, but said it was now time to support O'Brien. "As of today, we need to consider him a Penn Stater," the statement read, in part. "Alumni, current players and students need to rally around him and try to help him be as successful as possibleInstead of turning our backs on him, we need to embrace him and help him understand the Penn State way." Lee was drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft. Last season, his second with the Cowboys, Lee became a starter at inside linebacker and led the team in tackles. Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire
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