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Aaron Donald unsure how he’ll feel when football season rolls around

The summer and fall of 2024 will look very different for Aaron Donald. For the first time since 2013, he won’t be preparing for a season in the NFL. He won’t be heading to training camp, practicing Wednesday through Friday and suiting up on Sundays.

Now that he’s retired, he’ll be spending his Sundays watching football, either on TV or in the stands. He’ll still be supporting his Rams but it’ll be odd not seeing No. 99 in the middle of the defensive line splitting double-teams and harassing quarterbacks.

Donald has plenty of things keeping him busy right now, like his foundation and other business ventures he’s involved in, but he admits he doesn’t know how he’ll feel when football season rolls around and he’s not putting the pads on.

That doesn’t mean he’s planning to come out of retirement, but he’s unsure how he’ll feel when the season starts in September.

“It’s just not knowing as far as how I’m going to feel when the season’s actually around,” Donald told Chris Long on “Green Light” when asked what scares him about retirement. “Right now, I’m happy, I’m at peace. I got the development company going on, Donald Development Group, where we got 38 units we’re working on in Pittsburgh. We just did some meetings to potentially get some more projects our way. Got the Ready brand that’s doing amazing that I’ve got ownership in. AD99 Solutions, so I got things I’m focusing on, things that got to the point where we’ve got an income coming in.

“But as far as knowing what’s going to happen when the season comes around and I’m not on the field, I’m not part of it, I don’t know how I’m going to feel. In my head, I’m like, I’m going to be happy watching it on TV or watching it in the stands, but I don’t know. For me it’s just not knowing how I’m going to feel, because you never know until it’s time, right?”

Long asked Donald if he could share a bit about his secrets when it comes to preparation and being as disruptive as he was, before adding this: “Or are you coming back this fall?”

Donald’s response was a swift “hell no,” so there’s no indication he’s even considering a return to the field. No one would blame him if he did miss the game this fall and have the slightest itch to come back, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

As much as he might miss it, he just doesn’t have the fire and passion to come back for another season – which is admittedly hard to believe for the guy who was back in the gym a week after winning the Super Bowl.

Had he come back for another season and played in 2024, Donald could’ve earned another $30 million guaranteed. That would be enough to entice anyone to play another year, but the fact that he turned down that amount of money shows he just doesn’t have the same drive he always has.

He told Long that if he had come back for another year, he’d have only been doing it for the money, which would’ve made him feel like he was cheating the game.

Plus, he absolutely hated going through training camp every year.

“I just was never a fan of camp, bro. I just don’t have the passion. Thinking about having another camp, I’m like, there’s no way,” he said. “That’s why my two holdout years, I was loving that. I don’t have to do camp. I just train, I’m with the family now and I come back for the season. I actually enjoyed that. But I just don’t have the passion to go through another – thinking about the season and work and all the things I’ve got to do to keep my body up, I just don’t have the urge to do it anymore, so the passion to play the game is no longer there. If I was to come back, I feel like I’m just coming back for a check and I can’t disrespect the game of football like that and just play for money. I never was that guy, I can’t be that guy now because if I was to do that, I wouldn’t be the same player that I was.”

Donald is happily retired and enjoying life after football so far – which is affording him the opportunity to spend time with his family and pursue other off-field ventures. He might miss the game come September, but no one should hold their breath on a comeback.

Story originally appeared on Rams Wire