Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Former Rams, NFL legend Aaron Donald breaks silence on why he chose to retire after 10 seasons

There are a lot of parallels between the careers of Aaron Donald and Barry Sanders. The two are the only players in NFL history to play at least 10 seasons and receive Pro Bowl recognition each season. Both players also chose to retire at the top of their games for the same exact reason. 

Sanders, a Hall of Fame running back who spent his entire career with the Detroit Lions, recently said that his diminishing desire to play was one of the main factors that led to his shocking retirement at age 30 after 10 seasons. Donald, who recently announced his retirement from the NFL after 10 glorious seasons with the Rams, retired for similar reasons. 

“I’m complete. I’m full,” Donald said in his first interview since retiring. “I think the passion to play the game is no longer there for me. I will always love football, but to think about going through camp and going through another 17 (game) season. I just don’t have the urge to want to push myself to do that no more. 

“I’m burnt out, if anything. The best way to say it is that I’m full. I’m complete. I’m satisfied with what I was able to do in 10 years. I think it’s time for me, at 32-years-old, to retire from football and jump into the next step of my career and my life. 

“It’s time to move on.” 

Donald listed off his long list of NFL accomplishments, making it clear that he really has nothing left to prove. 

“Ten years, 10 Pro Bowls,” Donald said. “Eight All-Pros, three Defensive Player of the Years, Defensive Rookie of the Year, two NFC championships, three NFC West championships, went to two Super Bowls, won one, lost one.”

There’s one big difference between Donald and Sanders. While there really wasn’t much else Donald could do in his career, Sanders chose to walk away despite being less than 1,500 yards away from breaking Walter Payton’s career rushing record. Sanders, though, really didn’t care about individual numbers, and he wasn’t going to hang around for the sole purpose of breaking a record, even one as hallowed as the all-time rushing king. 

Very few players get to go out on top, on their own terms. Sanders was able to do so a quarter century ago, and Donald is following in his footsteps. 

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