Lee, an unselfish Packer
By JOEL COLEMAN
In the days leading up to today's Super Bowl XLV, the names Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Polamalu and others have flooded headlines.
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One name that hasn't grabbed much, if any attention, is that of Green Bay tight end Donald Lee.
If past history is any indication, the former Mississippi State Bulldog and Maben native is perfectly fine with flying under the radar heading into today's title game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"He's dedicated and takes care of his body," said Kenny Williamson, the man who served as Lee's prep football coach at what was then known as Maben High School. "He's always accepted the role and knows he's not going to be the franchise player. He understands that."
In a profession where players often sport a me-first attitude, Lee's demeanor is a polar opposite.
Rather than complain about a lack of touches or more offensive focus, Lee simply does his job when on the field.
Over his eight-year career, the 6-foot-4, 248 pounder has used this mindset to put together solid season after solid season.
After spending the first two years of his professional football life with the Miami Dolphins, Lee signed with the Packers as a free agent in 2005.
Since then, Lee has been a consistent performer for Green Bay, putting together his finest offensive season in 2007 by racking up what remains career highs in receptions (48), receiving yards (575) and touchdowns (6) as the Packers won the NFC North in legendary quarterback Brett Favre's final season with the team.
Since 2007, Lee's reception total, receiving yards and touchdowns have declined every season. Still, the veteran has played in every game for Green Bay the last three years, save for this season's Week 12 game at Atlanta when he was a healthy inactive player against the Falcons.
Though Lee would have loved to have been on the field at the Georgia Dome that day (Green Bay lost to the Falcons 20-17), Lee says he knew he'd get the chance to earn his spot back on the Packers' depth chart.
"I had to thank my mom for not raising me to be selfish," said Lee. "It's a team sport and sometimes things don't go the way you would like for them to go, but you've just got to remember that at the end of the day, it's an ultimate team sport and everybody has a job to do.
"When it's your turn to do the job, you step up in a big way to get it done. When I'm not able to help the team win, it's tough on me, but I never give up."
Lee returned to active duty the very next week against San Francisco and has played in every game since.
Lee finished the 2010 regular season with 11 receptions for 73 yards and three touchdowns, but his final score was undoubtedly his biggest.
Facing the Chicago Bears in Week 17, the Packers had to win to even earn entry into this year's playoffs.
With the game tied 3-3 early in the fourth quarter, it was Lee who notched the contest's decisive score on a 1-yard reception as Green Bay won 10-3.
"That was incredible and I do pride myself in being a team player," said Lee. "There are so many good players on this team right now and everyone wants an opportunity. Whenever an opportunity comes along, you've got to make the best of it because there's no telling when you will get that again with so many good players on this team."
Perhaps, in his first ever trip to the Super Bowl, Lee's next chance to shine will come today.
If it does, it's a safe bet that Lee will make the most of it.
"I want to do what I've got to do and when the time comes, I'll be ready," said Lee.