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Home / Sports / Rams defense leader Aaron Donald announces retirement

Rams defense leader Aaron Donald announces retirement

by Joe Taglieri
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Aaron Donald, the Los Angeles Rams’ longtime defensive leader and 2022 Super Bowl champion, announced his retirement Friday.

“Cheers to what’s next. Extending a big thank you to the Rams and all of the fans for your support over these last 10 years. Much love,” Donald posted on Twitter.com.

“I have been fortunate to play the game of football at the highest level,” Donald, 32, said on social media. “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.”

The Rams picked Donald, 32, in first-round draft pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. His accomplishments include Pro Bowl appearances in all 10 seasons of his career, eight All-Pro first-team selections and NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, 2018 and 2020.

“Throughout my career, I have given my everything to football both mentally and physically — 365 days a year was dedicated to becoming the best possible player I could be,” Donald posted on social media. “I respected this game like no other, and I’m blessed to be able to conclude my NFL career with the same franchise that drafted me. Not many people get drafted to a team, win a world championship with that team and retire with that team. I do not, and will not, take that for granted.

“As I turn my focus to a new chapter, I don’t know what the future holds, but I am excited about the off-the-field possibilities,” he said. “I’m looking forward to spending more time with my wife, Erica, and my kids, Jaeda, A.J., Aaric and Aali. The greatest reward was being able to play this game with them by my side, and I can’t wait to watch them live out their dreams just as they watched me live out mine.”

A key shining moment in Donald’s luminous career came at the climax of Super Bowl LVI, when he exploded into the backfield and forced Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow to throw an incompletion on the final play of the game, sealing the Rams the victory.

“It is a privilege to have witnessed one of the greatest players of all time and we are proud that Aaron Donald will forever be part of NFL history as a member of the Rams,” Rams owner Stan Kroenke said in a statement.

“The great players in our league elevate the people around them and Aaron has modeled the way for our team as long as I’ve been with the Rams,” head coach Sean McVay said in an article on the Rams’ official website. 

McVay described Donald as “an elite competitor … who leads by example in a way that’s authentic to him, and an exceptional teammate who inspires everyone around him. … 

“As great of a player he is, he’s an even better person,” MacVay continued. “He is truly one of one and epitomizes everything that’s right about sports. I will forever cherish the memories we’ve made and will always be grateful for how he poured everything into this game and into our team. He’s meant a lot to me personally and to my family.”

Rams veteran wide receiver Cooper Kupp posted, “Thankful to have been able to watch, learn from and play alongside one of the best to ever do it.”

The team’s General Manager Les Snead said in a statement, “There will never be another Aaron Donald.”

In what turned out to be Donald’s final season, the Rams were 10-7 and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Detroit Lions on Jan. 14.

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