Rams’ Aaron Donald, 3-time Defensive Player of the Year, announces retirement in NFL

Rams’ Aaron Donald, 3-time Defensive Player of the Year, announces retirement in NFL

A decade of Hall of Fame-level exclusivity is coming to an end.

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald announced his retirement Friday after 10 seasons in the NFL.

“For 10 years, I have been fortunate to play the game of football at the highest level. I`m thankful for the people I’ve met along the way, the relationships I’ve built and the things I’ve accomplished with my teammates and individually,” Donald said in a lengthy statement in which he thanked both the cities of St. Louis and Los Angeles.

Following the Rams’ victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI, Donald first toyed with the idea of retiring, but he instead took benefit of his opportunity to walk away in discussions for a rich new contract. That deal, which was supposed to expire after the next 2024 season, won’t be ending for him. As an alternative, he leaves with a Super Bowl ring, ten Pro Bowl selections, eight first-team All-Pro awards, three nominations for AP Defensive Player of the Year, and a spot on the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Decade Team of the 2010s.

The 2014 Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year is a Pittsburgh native who began his career as the Rams’ No. 13 overall pick and quickly became known around the world for his explosive and devastating speed play on the defensive interior. It attracted the attention of soccer fans. He capped off an incredibly stellar career with nine sacks, 18 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and his first Pro Bowl selection.

No matter what happened to the Rams – coaching changes, quarterback changes, moves to Los Angeles – Donald was a constant for the franchise. He missed just nine games in his career and made the Pro Bowl in every season he played (one of six players in NFL history to make the Pro Bowl), second most in his first season. Named All-Pro – Started his career as a first-team selection behind Hall of Famers Ron Mix and Jim Otto.

Throughout his 10-year career, Donald never gave up, leading all players in sacks, quarterback hits (per Next Gen Stats), and tackles for loss since he was drafted in 2014. He retired Friday, becoming the only player drafted. During the Jen Stutz era (2016-present), he had over 500 QB pressures and led the next closest defender, Cleveland’s Myles Garrett, with 124 points.

The numbers are breathtaking, and even more impressive when you consider how he recorded them. In an era where edge rushers dominate the headlines (and many opposing tackles) and command big paydays, Donald frequently battles hapless double teams on his way to quarterback, defeating opposing interior lines around the league. It instilled fear into Mann. There was no one as fast on the ball, as devastating with his hands, and as a technical master worthy of the highest respect.

It was only fair that Donald, who had been waiting for his best opportunity to win a championship, sealed the deal by pressing 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo into a game-winning interception in the NFC Championship Game, then raised his middle finger in celebration.

Two weeks later, he got that ring in much the same way, throwing a desperate pass to Bengals QB Joe Burrow that never had a chance to be completed. When the ball landed harmlessly on the SoFi Stadium turf (the same turf that Donald had known as his own for the last four years of his life), Donald officially became a Super Bowl champion.

He will step down as the Rams’ all-time sack leader (111 sacks) and join elite J.J. a. Watts and Lawrence Taylor. Five years later, he would receive the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s highest honor, the Gold Jacket, capping off one of the greatest careers in the history of the game.

Topics #3-time Defensive Player of the Year #Aaron Donald #Aaron Donald retirement #NFL #Rams #retirement in NFL

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