Los Angeles Rams fans exhaled this week when Super Bowl-winning head coach Sean McVay announced he’ll return for the 2023 season after flirting with retirement. Now Rams supporters are once again on high alert after a possible accidental Aaron Donald retirement announcement that appeared on the superstar defensive lineman’s social media account.
There may have been an inadvertent Aaron Donald retirement announcement on social media
After fulfilling every NFL player’s dream of winning the Super Bowl, superstar DL Aaron Donald contemplated retiring after last season.
The nine-year NFL veteran has absolutely nothing left to accomplish in professional football (more on that below). But after the Rams’ Super Bowl win, he decided to “run it back” in 2022.
Donald may regret that decision now.
The 2022 Rams season was a disaster. Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller left in the offseason, and injuries took their toll on the team throughout the year. Quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Cooper Kupp only played nine games each this season. Donald himself missed the final six games with an ankle injury. The team finished 5-12.
Now it seems like an Aaron Donald retirement might again be on the docket. On Super Wild Card Weekend this year — in which the Rams were not involved — Donald changed his Twitter bio to “Former Pitt Football Player #97 former NFL D Lineman for the Rams #99.”
He quickly lost the second “formerly” and changed it to “Former Pitt Football Player #97 NFL D Lineman for the Rams #99,” but not before ESPN’s NFL insider Adam Schefter took a screenshot and tweeted the side-by-side compassion.
Sure, it could be a weird accident. But the more likely scenario is that an Aaron Donald retirement announcement is imminent.
Whenever Donald walks away, he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer
Whether there is an Aaron Donald retirement tomorrow or he plays 10 more seasons, the defensive lineman is a first-ballot Hall of Famer the moment he hangs up his cleats.
The then-St. Louis Rams drafted the Pittsburgh Panthers D-lineman No. 11 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. Despite a loose consensus that Donald was the best and most NFL-ready player in the draft, 12 teams passed on him.
The player that went ahead of Donald were Jadeveon Clowney, Greg Robinson, Blake Bortles, Sammy Watkins, Khalil Mack, Jake Matthews, Mike Evans, Justin Gilbert, Anthony Barr, Eric Ebron, Taylor Lewan, and Odell Beckham Jr.
Reasonable minds can disagree on whether a few of these players should have gone ahead of Donald, but almost every team ahead of the Rams that year have kicked themselves for not taking the in-line disruptor.
Donald has made the Pro Bowl every season in the NFL and the All-Pro team in seven of those nine seasons. He is also one of three players in NFL history to win the Defensive Player of the Year Award three times, alongside the retiring J.J. Watt and Lawrence Taylor.
If there is an Aaron Donald retirement soon, he’ll finish his career with 490 tackles, 103.0 sacks, 24 forced fumbles, and seven fumble recoveries.
Donald has the sixth-most sacks among active players, is 34th all-time, and has the third-most sacks of any player to only play for one team, behind Lawrence Taylor (Giants) and Robert Mathis (Colts).
So, if Donald does announce he’s walking away this offseason, don’t forget what a pleasure it was to see arguably the greatest defensive tackle of all time do it.