Ex-Rams DT Aaron Donald feels 'complete' after 10-year career

LOS ANGELES -- In his first interview since announcing his retirement from the NFL, former Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald said Friday he is "leaving at peace" and on his own terms.

"I'm complete," Donald said in an interview with his wife, Erica. "I'm full. 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 another camp and another 17-[game] season, I just don't got the urge to want to push myself to do that no more.

"I'm burnt out. The best way to say it is I'm full, I'm complete. I'm satisfied with what I was able to do in 10 years."

Donald announced his retirement on March 15 after 10 seasons. In those 10 seasons, Donald was a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, an eight-time first-team All-Pro, a 10-time Pro Bowl selection and the 2014 Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Donald finished his career with 111 sacks, second most among primary defensive tackles in a career (behind John Randle's 137.5) since individual sacks became an official statistic in 1982. He holds the Rams' franchise record for career sacks.

Last season, Donald had 8 sacks and 53 total tackles in 16 games and was named first-team All-Pro.

"I accomplished everything and more than I even thought was possible," Donald said. "Coming to the NFL, I just wanted to get there and be the best defensive tackle. But to be considered the best player in the National Football League, to be considered the best defensive player in the National Football League, to win as many individual accolades I did and win ... I just feel like it's nothing I didn't get to feel as an individual success to team success."

Donald is one of three players to win the Defensive Player of the Year award three times, along with Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt. The award was first given out in 1971.

Donald said this was not the first time he considered retirement. He wrote a retirement letter after winning Super Bowl LVI with the Rams that would have been effective May 9, 2022. Ultimately, Donald said, after talking to head coach Sean McVay, he realized he wasn't ready to retire.

"It's hard to walk away after winning a Super Bowl," Donald said. "You want to experience that again because that's the ultimate high."

Although he is retiring, Donald said he's leaving "a great young team that's going to have a lot of success."

"To leave the team how I'm leaving the team, in good hands with great young guys that's going to do some great things for the organization, make it even that much better for me to know I ain't leaving it in a bad condition," Donald said. "It's in good terms, and they have a good team, and I feel like they're going to have a lot of success.

"And I'm just going to be, this time just watching from the sidelines, just being a fan now."