As the NFL and other sports leagues weigh options to safely return to action amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald said he is not a fan of playing without fans.
"You need fans to play a game," Donald said Thursday on a video conference with reporters. "I don't see how you could play a game without no fans. I feel like that takes out the excitement and the fun out of the game ...
"I feel like the fans is what pick you up. The fans is what makes the game exciting. The fans will give you that extra juice when you're tired and fatigued, when you make that big play and you hear 80,000 fans going crazy. That just pumps you up."
The Rams are scheduled to open the 2020 season against the Dallas Cowboys in prime time on Sept. 13 at SoFi Stadium.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said earlier this week that pro sports could begin to move toward returning "in that first week or so of June" without spectators.
The NFL approved the reopening of team facilities this week to limited staff members, not including coaches and players. However, the Rams' facility remains closed, with the exception of players who are undergoing rehabilitation assignments, because of strict state regulations that have yet to be lifted.
A two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Donald has been training in the basement gym of his childhood home in Pittsburgh. He said he would be ready for the start of the season, but he hopes fans will be there to cheer him on.
"You practice, and practice is practice. And then you prepare to play a game and be on a big stage and play in front of a crowd," Donald said. "... Just no excitement [without fans]. It wouldn't be fun to me. I don't think it would be fun to play a football game without fans."