LA Rams: Did Matthew Stafford trade constitute ‘last call’ for Lombardi?

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /
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Matthew Stafford LA Rams Aaron Donald
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The lonely tears of Aaron Donald

Aaron Donald is a perfectionist. He is the person whose entire persona focuses upon becoming the best at whatever he is engaged in doing. He trains so hard, so quickly, and for so long, that he has become the standard for virtually all NCAA college football defensive linemen who hope to join the ranks of the NFL.

He is so good, that he is the focus of offensive coordinators and offensive linemen. He routinely draws double-teams with blocking at the line of scrimmage, oftentimes triple-blocking, and even four blockers. He is so dominating that he sometimes plays like an unstoppable juggernaut. There is no shame in being bested by Aaron Donald in the NFL because Donald is the best.  And each year, numerous NFL committees reaffirm that excellence by awarding, honoring, and presenting Aaron Donald recognition of his incredible dedication and talent.

After the LA Rams’ playoff run after the 2020 season ended at the hands of the Green Bay Packers by the score of 32-18, Aaron Donald shed tears. He played under the most adverse of conditions with injured ribs that made every breath painful. Any lesser player would likely not have been on the field that day. But this is Aaron Donald, after all. He was conscious, he could walk, a football game was scheduled, and that meant that he would play. But after the heartbreaking loss, emotions that propelled him to that point in time washed over him.

Aaron Donald enters his eighth NFL season at the age of 30 years old. He has a treasure chest of individual awards. But the one honor that he covets most has eluded him, as it has so many NFL greats.  His chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy with longtime teammate and friend Michael Brockers is gone now. This season will likely be the last chance to share the joy with teammate Andrew Whitworth. Even as the LA Rams front office scrambles to restock the team’s roster, fans do not always understand that it’s a new version of that team each year. Those bonds of friendship expand a player’s heart, but farewells due to trade, waiver, or retirement still cut just as deeply.

Aaron Donald did not cry because he didn’t get his way. He mourned the loss as we would all mourn the loss of a friend or loved one. The goal of winning a Super Bowl is still the same. But this is a new team, and Aaron Donald realizes that the number of chances to win is now reduced by one.