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#pounditFriday, September 30, 2022

Articles tagged: Aaron Donald

Report reveals how close Aaron Donald came to retirement

Aaron Donald in pads

Sep 19, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) on the sideline in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Donald spent a good portion of the offseason talking about possibly retiring, but few were aware just how close the Los Angeles Rams’ star defensive lineman came to walking away from the sport.

Donald went as far as to send a letter to the Rams notifying the team of his retirement and instructing the organization to pass it along to the NFL, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The Rams did not send the letter, but instead engaged in last-ditch contract talks with Donald’s agent Todd France that ultimately led to a new deal.

Donald and the Rams were at a standstill in contract talks in May, when Donald sent the letter. Rapoport notes that it is not clear if Donald’s letter was serious or merely a negotiating tactic, but regardless, it played a role in bringing the two sides to an agreement.

As late as the end of May, Donald was essentially saying he would retire if his contractual demands were not met. While it seems simple in retrospect, he was evidently telling the truth at the time.

Ultimately, Donald received a monster raise to come back. He is signed through 2024. Fans should appreciate him even more given how close he apparently was to not coming back at all.

Aaron Donald offers strange explanation for practice brawl with Bengals

Aaron Donald in pads

Sep 19, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) on the sideline in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald on Wednesday was asked about his actions in a wild practice brawl with the Cincinnati Bengals last week, and he didn’t want to engage in the topic.

Donald was swinging two Bengals helmets around during last Thursday’s fight, which went above and beyond the average practice scuffle.

On Wednesday, however, Donald sought to downplay the incident. He told Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press that it was “just a practice” and not something he wanted to discuss.

“It was just a practice. It was football,” Donald said. “I don’t really wanna go back to nothing negative that happened and talk about something that happened in a practice. My main focus is Buffalo.”

This most definitely was not just a practice, but Donald is probably better off saying little. As unsavory as the scenes were, he did not actually get seriously punished for them. The best he can do at this stage is just move on.

The Rams and Bengals do not meet in the regular season. Unless they cross paths in the Super Bowl again, this issue is probably settled.

Report: Rams make decision on discipline over practice brawl

Aaron Donald in pads

Sep 19, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) on the sideline in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams have made at least some decision on how they will handle discipline from Thursday’s wild practice fight with the Cincinnati Bengals.

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Rams will handle any discipline stemming from the brawl internally. There are no plans to publicly disclose any discipline that is handed down to any players.

Few will be satisfied with this outcome, though it is precisely what the NFL allows for. Since the brawl happened during a practice, discipline does not actually fall at the NFL’s feet, and is left to the teams.

Much of the speculation about discipline will center on Aaron Donald, who was seen swinging helmets at opponents during the free-for-all. That is the sort of thing the league would come down hard on if it took place during a game. Here, any discipline will simply fall to the Rams.

NFL unlikely to discipline Aaron Donald for practice fight?

Aaron Donald during a game

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) before Super Bowl LVI against the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Things got out of control during Thursday’s joint practice between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams, with Aaron Donald at the center of it. Though Donald did things that would certainly get him suspended if they took place in a game, the NFL is unlikely to act based on what he did on the practice field.

Video showed Donald swinging two Bengals helmets at Cincinnati players during a heated practice fight Thursday. However, oversight of player behavior during practices is delegated to clubs, not the league. As Tom Pelissero of NFL Network notes, Donald is unlikely to face league discipline for that reason.

This will not sit well with many. After all, Cleveland’s Myles Garrett did something similar during a 2019 game and wound up serving a six-game suspension for it. Donald’s actions aren’t any less dangerous, but the consequences may well be less significant simply because of the setting this happened in.

Donald flirted with retirement following the 2021 season, but ultimately returned to the Rams on a monster new contract.

Aaron Donald swings helmets during Rams-Bengals practice fight

Aaron Donald in pads

Sep 19, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) on the sideline in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

An ugly brawl broke out between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals during a joint practice between the two teams on Thursday. Aaron Donald was at the center of it, and the three-time Defensive Player of the Year may have taken things a bit too far.

There were a few minor scuffles during the practice before things got out of hand. Bengals offensive lineman La’el Collins got into it with Leonard Floyd and threw Floyd’s helmet at the Rams linebacker, according to some reporters in attendance. Donald then had two Bengals’ players helmets in his hands and was seen swinging them around. The video below shows that portion of the fight:

One photo that went viral showed Donald holding two Bengals helmets.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor downplayed the incident and said the important thing is that no one was injured.

Donald could face some sort of disciplinary action. We have seen plenty of fights during joint practices this offseason, but swinging a helmet around is always dangerous.

Cleveland Browns star Myles Garrett received a lengthy suspension three seasons ago when he swung a helmet during a fight. While the NFL typically leaves it up to teams to discipline players for incidents during practice, they may make an exception for Donald.

Aaron Donald shows off his choke move on Rams teammate

Aaron Donald during a game

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) before Super Bowl LVI against the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Donald is a historically great NFL defensive lineman. Apparently, that status comes with some unorthodox tactics to consistently succeed.

Donald was seen doing a strange move on undrafted rookie teammate Elijah Garcia during Saturday’s training camp workout. The veteran seemingly grabbed Garcia by the neck and shook him back and forth, almost as if choking him. However, this was clearly a drill of some sort, and Garcia appeared to be a willing participant.

What is the purpose of this? Who knows. Perhaps it’s some kind of strength drill, but it does not look like a great time if you’re in Garcia’s shoes.

Donald has found himself in hot water with the league at times for pulling choke moves during games. Maybe this is all part of practicing that for the intimidation factor.

Aaron Donald reveals 1 factor that led him to return to Rams

Aaron Donald in pads

Sep 19, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) on the sideline in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Donald flirted with retirement after winning the Super Bowl before ultimately returning to the Los Angeles Rams. On Saturday, he revealed what could have changed that decision.

Donald admitted that he would not have returned had coach Sean McVay decided to leave the Rams. The star defensive lineman added that he will probably call it a career if McVay does opt to depart at any point.

“Not at all. Not at all,” Donald told NFL Network when asked if he would be in camp without McVay, via Bobby Kownack of NFL.com. “If Sean ain’t here — I told Sean when he first got here. We came up with some things early and I first told him as long as he’s the head coach here, I want to continue to build my legacy with him. As long as he’s here and I got the ability to still play at a high level, I’m going to be here. When he’s gone and it’s all said and done, that probably will be when I’m hanging it up, too.”

Around the time of the Super Bowl, there was some speculation that McVay might leave coaching to go into television. McVay himself added a bit of fuel to that speculation with comments he made. He could have made a ton of money had he chosen to do so, but he ultimately decided against it.

Donald more or less tied his future to McVay at the team’s championship parade. Ultimately, as long as the coach sticks around, Donald apparently will too.

Steph Curry modeled viral ring celebration after 1 NFL player

Steph Curry points to his finger

Steph Curry drew inspiration for his third-quarter ring celebration Thursday from another California-based champion.

Curry made a deep three-pointer to give the Golden State Warriors a big lead in the third quarter of Game 6 of the NBA Finals. After he made the shot, Curry pointed to his ring finger (seen here).

In an appearance on NBA TV’s postgame show following his Warriors’ Game 6 win, Curry revealed that his ring finger point was influenced by Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Donald had a similar celebration when his Rams won the Super Bowl in February.

“Shout out to Aaron Donald for giving me some inspiration for that celebration,” Curry said. “It might have been a little early, but I felt it [in the moment].”

Here’s Curry’s celebration, which may have been a topic of ridicule had the Celtics won the game, compared to Donald’s.

Like Donald, Curry earned the actual ring that he’ll get to put on his finger at the start of next season.

The two-time MVP won his first NBA Finals MVP after averaging just over 31 points per game. In Game 6, Curry led the Warriors with 34 points and made six three-pointers while shooting 12-of-21 from the field. He finished the postseason averaging 27.4 points on 39.7 percent from three-point range and 45.9 percent from the field in 22 games.

Trent Williams has fitting reaction to Aaron Donald contract

Trent Williams looking ahead

Sep 26, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Trent Williams (71) walks on the field before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

San Fransisco 49ers offensive tackle Trent Williams isn’t looking forward to lining up against Aaron Donald for another season.

Williams told reporters Tuesday that, while Donald’s contract was deserved, he wished that Donald would have decided to hang it up for good.

“I wish he would have retired,” Williams said with a laugh, via Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area.

On Monday, the Los Angeles Rams reworked Donald’s contract to make him the first non-quarterback to make over $30 million annually. Donald will make $65 million guaranteed over 2022 and 2023, and would make $30 million in 2024 if he chooses to play. Donald had hinted at his possible retirement as recently as late May.

Donald’s contract is certainly much deserved. The 31-year-old has made the Pro Bowl in all of his eight NFL seasons. He has been named a first-team All-Pro seven consecutive times. Last season, Donald had 12.5 sacks and a career-high 84 total tackles in 17 games. Donald had 15 tackles in two regular season games against the 49ers last season, and three tackles with two quarterback hits in their NFC Championship Game matchup.

Williams, 33, also acknowledged that he enjoys competing with Donald.

“He deserved a contract. We all know what he can do,” Williams said. “I don’t know him on a personal level but I like competing against him. Brings out the best in all of us.”

The two will get to line up against each other twice during the upcoming regular season. The Rams travel to San Francisco for a Monday night game on October 3. They will host the 49ers later that month on October 30.

Aaron Donald returns to Rams on massive new 3-year contract

Aaron Donald in pads

Sep 19, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) on the sideline in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Sean McVay expressed all season that he was not at all worried about Aaron Donald’s future with the Los Angeles Rams. That’s because the coach knew the team would take care of the matter.

And, boy, did they ever.

The Rams reworked Donald’s contract to pay him more money through 2024. Under the terms of his new deal, Donald will make $65 million guaranteed over 2022 and 2023. He also is under contract to make $30 million in 2024 if he chooses to play that season.

Donald is the first non-quarterback to make over $30 million per season.

The 31-year-old has made the Pro Bowl in all eight of his NFL seasons and won Defensive Player of the Year three times. He was threatening retirement over the last several months, but that may have just been a ploy to get more money out of the Rams. His approach — and more importantly his play on the field — has paid off.

The Rams happily announced the news with a posting on social media that said “run it back.”

Donald had a career-high 84 tackles last season, along with 12.5 sacks. He was a big factor in the team’s Super Bowl win over the Bengals, making a key stop to win the game.