Aaron Donald, 3-time defensive player of the year, announces retirement

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner and widely viewed as one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, announced his retirement Friday.

Donald, 32, is certain to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The eight-time All-Pro played his entire career with the Rams — in St. Louis and then Los Angeles — recording 111 sacks, the second most for a defensive tackle. He was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his 10 seasons.

“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 Friday.

“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,” Donald added.

Nicknamed "The Terminator," Aaron Donald played his entire career with the Rams franchise. - Harry How/Getty Images
Nicknamed "The Terminator," Aaron Donald played his entire career with the Rams franchise. - Harry How/Getty Images

Donald played in two Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl LVI over the Cincinnati Bengals in 2022. Donald, who had hinted that he may retire should the Rams win the title, sealed the victory by disrupting Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow’s pass attempt on fourth down on the Bengals’ final play.

“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,” Donald said in the social media post.

The NFL community paid tribute to Donald on Friday. Rams head coach Sean McVay described him as “truly one of one.” Rams owner and chairman Stan Kroenke called Donald an inspiration and “one of the greatest players of all time” who “left his mark on generations of football fans.”

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, who plays against the Rams twice a year in the NFC West, posted in jest on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Enjoy ya retirement and plz don’t come back.” Murray added a folded-hands prayer emoji.

NBA superstars LeBron James and Kevin Durant also praised Donald on X.

Donald, a star at the University of Pittsburgh, was drafted No. 13 overall in 2014. He would go on to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

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