Aaron Donald Announces his NFL Retirement

PITTSBURGH—Widely regarded as one of the greatest players of not only his generation but in the history of the National Football League, Pitt’s Aaron Donald has called it a career.

The former Pitt star announced his retirement on Friday, concluding one of the most decorated and dominant careers the game has ever witnessed.

Selected by the Rams in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft (13th overall), Donald more than delivered on the lofty expectations placed on a top draft choice. Over 10 professional seasons, he became one of only three players in league history to earn three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards. Donald was one of only six unanimous picks for the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team.

Despite facing an array of blocking schemes—some legal and some that employed good old-fashioned holding—he compiled an astounding 111 sacks. He had at least eight sacks in 8 of his 10 NFL seasons.

Donald led the Rams to two Super Bowls and clinched his team’s victory in Super Bowl LVI when he smothered Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, forcing the final incompletion in a 23-20 Los Angeles victory.

Reflecting his lofty NFL status, Donald played a memorable role in the league’s “The 100-Year Game” commercial.

A Western Pennsylvania native, Donald starred at Penn Hills High School, twice earning first team All-State Class AAAA, before matriculating to Pitt in 2010. He was an immediate contributor for the Panthers and over the next four seasons compiled an amazing 66 tackles for loss, the most by an FBS interior defensive lineman (and fourth regardless of position) since 2000 when the NCAA began tracking that statistic.

As a senior in 2013, Donald was an unstoppable force. He led the nation with 28.5 tackles for loss and added 11 sacks, four forced fumbles and a blocked extra point. At season’s end, Donald was named a unanimous first team All-American and the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award, Outland Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award, making him one of the most decorated players in Pitt history.

The ground floor of Pitt’s Duratz Athletic Complex practice facility was renamed the “Aaron Donald Football Performance Center” in 2019. The recognition came after Donald made a seven-figure financial commitment to the Pitt Football Championship Fund, which serves the program in such key areas as facility improvement, recruiting, technology and student-athlete development. It marked the largest donation ever by a Pitt football letterman to the program.

“It was a dream come true to play for the University of Pittsburgh,” said Donald. “My experience as a Panther is something that influences my life every day and I want to pay that forward.

“Pitt will always be my school and I’m honored to be able to support the Blue and Gold.” 

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First appeared on pittsburghpanthers.com

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