For some LA Rams players, winning Super Bowl LVI is the culmination of a lifelong journey. Players like veteran offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth and defensive back Eric Weddle can now retire from the game of professional football, knowing the sheer joy of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy into the air.
But for others, it raises something else into the air. Something else like the questions of what comes next? What next goal is left to accomplish? In a far deeper question than I can put to words here, it’s the basic question of meaning. What more is left to do? To many, life is a series of stops. A stream of endless goals that we set for ourselves that will allow us to disembark to our destination of contentment and happiness.
For others, life is about the journey. It’s not the goal, but rather the daily laughs, passions, and tears along the way to get there. It’s the reason to wake up each morning. By the time true retirement age arrives, it is a lifetime of lasting memories.
No one can know what lies in another’s heart. We all walk different paths in life. And as much as we want to hear from another, to persuade another, to convince another, their experiences and path in life simply run their own course. Right now, Aaron Donald cannot be thrilled with the Rams’ inability to re-sign Von Miller. He enjoyed playing as Von Miller’s teammate. Now, they will be opponents once more.
"“I’m gonna enjoy the moment. We bring everybody back? I’m back. Odell Beckham, Von Miller, we bring them guys back, let’s make it happen.” – Donald said to TMZ reporters after the Super Bowl parade."
That set the stage for disappointment. Disappointment that the Rams, and Donald, must now process together and separately. That type of emotional torque is impossible to comprehend in the third-person perspective. Will it always end up this way? Will the LA Rams find a teammate who can help elevate the defense, shoulder some of the burden that is Aaron Donald’s to bear, only to lose him just as suddenly? The LA Rams had found, and then lost, Ndamukong Suh. They had found and then lost, Von Miller. With each new chapter, Aaron Donald must try to enjoy the journey.
With each hello comes an all too sudden farewell. With each new teammate, and with each new spike in their on-field production, comes the inevitable big payday and farewell. That wash-rinse-repeat cycle is making some NFL players incredibly rich. But it’s taking a toll on All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald.
The greatest challenge to success is success itself. As soon as the LA Rams won Super Bowl LVI, the market value of each and every projected free agent went up. That is on top of the already inflated value related to producing at a higher than expected level that Rams followers have come to know as the “Aaron Donald effect.”
Few, if any, players understand that their moment in the spotlight on the LA Rams defense is simply because they have far less work to do thanks to the efforts of Donald. How long will it be worth his effort of getting double and triple-teamed, only to watch others hit the lottery and walk away?
Who is to say? Right now, Aaron Donald left it out there with this statement: “We bring everybody back? I’m back.” The Rams tried to bring Von Miller back but failed. Now what? If the LA Rams are wise, they would treat that statement very seriously and fill Miller’s void quickly.