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TRANSCRIPT: Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay, DL Aaron Donald August 31 press conference

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Here’s what McBae and the highest-paid defender in the history of the game had to say to the media today.

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(Opening remarks)

“A lot of things happening today for us. Really, really happy for (DT) Aaron (Donald). I know this has been a long time coming. This is something that we feel really good about as an organization. This is a player that has, from a production standpoint, really played unbelievably since he’s been here as a Ram, but he also goes about his business the right way. He’s a pro’s pro. He loves studying the game. He loves the game of football and we’re glad to have him back, ready to go. Today started that process and looking forward to seeing him get more comfortable each and every day. We’ve got some time until that Oakland (Raiders) game, but it’s good to have him back. Really happy for Aaron and his family and something that he’s deserving of. I know his teammates and our organization – really glad to have him back here with us.”

(On his level of anxiousness to turn Donald loose right away versus holding back)

“We’re going to build him in. That’s the one thing that we sat down with Aaron (Donald) and we sat down with (Senior Director of Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie (Scott) and (Director of Strength Training and Performance) Ted (Rath) today. We’ve got a strategic plan over the next couple weeks to get him up to speed, but be smart where you’re getting that physical work. But, want to make sure that he’s also fresh and ready to go for that date on Monday night against the Raiders, which is going to be a great challenge for us. But, certainly provides a good spark for us. We’re excited to have Aaron back and now we’re just ready to go to work.”

(On if he has an emotion to describe that he no longer has to provide daily updates on Donald’s contract status)

“I think we’re just happy to have him back. It’s been something that, like we’ve said, a lot of guys have been working really hard and it’s been an exciting process for us as coaches working with these players. To get Aaron (Donald) back here with us is something that I think everybody feels good about. But, it’s part of the process. I think you continue to learn every single day and now you guys realize that I wasn’t messing around the other day (laughs).”

(On if there was a tangible jolt of energy when Donald walked back into the building)

“Well guys are excited. I think there’s a confidence level that existed with the players that we have in the building and certainly when you add Aaron Donald to the mix, we are definitely a better football team with him here. I think guys are just happy for Aaron. That’s one of the things you realize, too, is when you see these guys, they’re a connected team and they’re really happy for Aaron for what this provides for him to be able to support his family, get taken care of. I think as coaches, and really as teammates, you want to see guys get rewarded. It’s something that when guys have success or they’re able to earn a contract like this, that’s something that you can’t help but be appreciative and really happy for the human being. I know he’s ready to go and just get to work and now that this is over with, it’s all about football moving forward.”

(On not having any excuses for not having a successful season with all the pieces now in place)

“I think regardless of whether he was here or not, there’s expectations. Certainly, we feel really good about the players that we do have and it’s about us coming together as a team, finding a way to really allow these guys to collaborate and become powerful on offense, defense, special teams and ultimately a great team. That’s something that we’re striving to do. I think what’s unique about this team compared to last year is you learn that each team has its own identity, but you want to still have the same core values and principles that we emphasize. The ownership that our players have on kind of what this building is like and how they want to operate is what’s special about it and that’s why you feel good to have the guys leading that are.”

(On if he uses last year as a template to get Donald up to speed and if Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips had any reaction when he broke the news to him)

“(Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) was excited. I’m sure Wade will have a couple good quotables for you guys when you talk to him about it. He was excited to get him back. Last year serves as a template, like you mentioned, but it is a little bit different because we do have a little bit more time. I think what’s helpful about it is, we’ve been through something similar. But, that was different where he missed the Indy game and really he just has a normal week of preparation going into Washington and then we actually had the Thursday game on a short week. So, this provides – we’ve really got six practices before we play those guys. But, then you’re able to do some different things within the framework of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, different things to try to get Aaron (Donald) up to speed as quickly as possible. That’s something that we started today and it looked like he felt pretty good just moving around with his teammates.”

(On what it is about Donald’s character that separates him)

“Yeah, we talk about it a lot. I think you see a lot better than you hear, and what you see from Aaron (Donald) is the consistency, the work ethic. We talk about consistency being the truest measurement of performance, but I think you’ve got a real appreciation for the preparation that goes into a week’s long preparation: film study, drill work on the field, being intentional about the team periods, studying the game-plan and then also having special ability. I think you see a rare combination with a player like Aaron. I think just the way that he consistently goes about his work where everybody that knows Aaron knows that he’s a little bit more reserved and stuff like that, but I think sometimes those guys are the best leaders because they do it right just by watching the way they handle their business day in and day out. We talk about, ‘those who know, know’ and the people that know – the teammates, coaches, people that are around him – they know that he’s about the right stuff. He respects this game, he respects the preparation that it takes to be able to play at an elite, all-pro level like he has. I think you’ll see nothing but the exact same thing from Aaron. He’s excited to be back. He loves football. You see the way that he trains when he’s away. I think he’s just ready to get back with his teammates and go to work one day at a time and that’s what you consistently see day in and day out from him.”

(On what it’s like for him knowing that the organization has managed to sign Donald, RB Todd Gurley II, WR Brandin Cooks and T Rob Havenstein for the long term)

“I think it represents great foresight on the part of (Executive Vice President of Football Operations/Chief Operating Officer) Kevin Demoff, (General Manager) Les (Snead) and (Vice President, Football and Business Administration) Tony Pastoors has been outstanding – with regards to being able to get things taken care of, but also have a long-term vision where how we make it fit, identifying some of those guys and then we’ve added some other really instrumental pieces to what we hope to be a good team. We’ve got to earn it every single day, but I think it’s really a credit to those guys making some of those numbers work, understanding the nuances of it. Those are the things that as you kind of get a little more exposure to it, you appreciate what an excellent job they’ve done, as you continue to really educate yourself and really learn about how many things go in to that and that’s a credit to those guys. So really great job for them.”

(On being able to get those player contracts done while QB Jared Goff is still on his rookie contract)

“I think it certainly does help. When you see the types of contracts that these really good quarterbacks are earning in this league, it does help to have a player of (QB) Jared’s (Goff) caliber on his rookie deal still, but I think there still is a long-term perspective and vision that these guys have in place. Hopefully he continues to grow, which is what we fully accept from Jared and then we’ll be sitting up here having a similar press conference where he’ll be making a lot of money I would imagine (laughs). So, these are good things but right now, we just talk about staying in the moment and I think based off that situation these are the decisions, that we felt like are players that have earned the right to get paid accordingly and these are guys that we wanted to have as foundational pieces of what we’re hoping to build moving forward. Happy for these guys and can’t say enough about what Kevin, what Les, what Tony have done to be able to get these players locked up under contracts where they’re going to be Rams for a long time.”

(On how it’s a good day with Donald’s contract signing but also a tough day as they make roster cuts to meet the 53-man roster deadline tomorrow)

“You’re exactly right. It’s never fun and I think the one thing that you get to learn when you’re in this role is when you’re delivering the information as opposed to talking to somebody after they’ve already kind of found out, it’s a totally different level. It’s tough. But, I think we always talk about just clear, open and honest communication. Having an appreciation for just what these guys have done, even if it doesn’t work out as we move forward. Couldn’t be more impressed with some of the tough decisions we had to make today. You talk about guys handling these things with class, representing some of the things that hope to embody as an organization. But our players today that unfortunately we had to let go, couldn’t have been more impressed with just the level of class they demonstrated and some of those conversations. We have so much appreciation for them. Like you mentioned, tomorrow is going to represent another day where some tough decisions have to be made. You just want to make sure that you at least give people an understanding of why you made that decision and also let them know how much you’ve appreciate what they’ve done, because I think there’s an element you forget, there’s a human element. These are guys, this is a job, this is how they support their families in a lot of ways and it’s never fun no matter how you put it.”

DL Aaron Donald

(On the process he went through and how he feels his level of anxiousness)

”I feel good right now. To be back out here, playing football again – that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. But a long process, long wait – it was tough, definitely was tough for me just having love for the game and having to push that to the side to handle the business side. It’s a blessing. I thank (Owner/Chairman) Mr. (E. Stanley) Kroenke for giving me an opportunity, investing in me. (Executive Vice President of Football Operations/Chief Operating Officer) Kevin (Demoff) and (Vice President, Football & Business Administration) Tony (Pastoors) and those guys did a great job – my agents, Todd (France) and Brian (Ayrault) – nonstop to get this thing done. So, I can’t thank Mr. Kroenke enough for investing in me and letting me finish my career here and be a part of doing something special here.”

(On how concerned he was through the process that the new contract wouldn’t get done)

”A lot of things go through your head because it was a stressful time for me. My family, they kept me focused and I just kept working, kept grinding, had to trust the process. So, it’s over and done with now and I’m just happy to be here, back with my guys, back with these coaches and back playing football.”

(On if he would’ve came in at this time if the new contract wasn’t done)

”I’m just happy it’s done now. That’s all that matters now. We don’t even got to worry about that and I can be here playing football right now.”

(On the feeling he has joining players in the defensive line)

”They’re play makers. Anytime you’ve got play makers around, you’re going to be excited to be able to work with those guys and build with them – continue to build with (DL Michael Brockers) ‘Brock’ – I’ve been with him going five years now and getting to build a relationship with (DT Ndamukong) Suh. So, I’m excited just to be back and like I said, out there working with those guys and trying to prepare for this upcoming game.”

(On if the deal was what he had in mind when he started the holdout process last season)

”I had no idea. My main job is to play football and I just trusted my agents were going to get it done from the business side. So, they did a great job and like I said, went nonstop to get this thing done. I thank them, thank Mr. Kroenke for like I said, investing in me and I’m going to continue to work and continue to get better.”

(On what his coaches and teammates message was to him and if he appreciated hearing from them)

”Yeah, we were just more not talking about the business side, just talking about how I was doing, asking about the family and things like that. So, any time your head coach continues to reach out to you and just checking on you outside of football – just making sure everything’s good – that means a lot.”

(On him being successful last year and if he feels about the same as he did last year when he came in)

”Yeah, I feel great. Trained at (University of Pittsburgh) Pitt the whole offseason. Worked with the Pitt’s Strength Coach (Head Strength and Conditioning Coach) Andrews did a great job with me in the weight room. Trained with my speed coach I’ve been working with since high school, Duane Brown. So, I feel good, but still got to get in football mode as far as pass-rush moves and it’s just knock the rust off a little bit. That’ll come in a couple days, so I feel good.

(On his conversation with DT Ndamukong Suh when he was introduced and signed)

”We just had a little conversation. It went good, just talked about what we can do and our mindset. He’s got the same mindset – the ultimate goal is to try to win a world championship – that’s the end goal. So, we’ve got to work towards that and it’s a long process and it’s just the beginning. But, when you’ve got guys like that that got the same mindset you’ve got, you tend to be happy that those guys are on your team.”

(On what it means to him being the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history and what it means for the position he plays)

”It’s a blessing. That’s all I can say. Growing up, thinking about playing in the NFL, you never think that big and expect something like that. But like I said, my dad told me since day one, ‘Hard work pays off’ and just putting the body work in, continuing to put the body work in. I’m going to continue to work nonstop. So, all I can say is it’s a blessing. Thank God for giving me the opportunity, put me around my family members that I have and putting good people around me to help me achieve a lot, but we’re just getting started.”

(On what it means to him when a lot of his teammates are getting long-term contract extensions)

”Just trying to win. Like I said, the names you said alone – a lot of playmakers, a lot of big-time players that can be a game changer. So, at any time, like I said, when you’ve got a lot of guys like that on your team – just continue to work, the sky’s the limit. It’s a lot of talk, but we still have got to go out there, perform and work to win games.”

(On how he feels that other player’s deals were done first)

”It is what it is. Like I said, I just had to trust the process. You can’t let certain things get personal because at the end of the day, it’s just business. So, like I said, I’m just happy it’s done now and can move past that and I can just play football.”

(On if there was a point that he felt the contract really could get done)

”Yeah, because I knew before y’all did (laughs). When everybody else was talking, I’m just smiling in my head like y’all don’t even know. But like I said, I can’t thank this organization enough – Mr. Kroenke, my agents, Kevin, Tony, Les – so, it’s a blessing. I’m here and like I said, I’m just happy to be back.”

(On if he worked in the contract that he doesn’t have to go through training camp for the next six years)

”(Laughs) No, you don’t want to miss things like that because you miss the chemistry with your players and you just miss that brotherhood you’ve got with your guys. So, like I said, it’s not something that I wanted to do, but at the end of the day, just had to make a business decision and like I said, it’s done and over with now, but I’m happy.”

(On his tweet of the hourglass and if he brought his fake knives with him)

”(Laughs) No, like I said, I’m just happy I’m here now. So, I really don’t want to talk about through the process because it was definitely a stressful process for me. I did a lot of different things this offseason as far as training wise, just trying to work different things. So, it doesn’t ever hurt to try different stuff. So, just try to work a little harder. Trying to find ways to clean up my technique. The more practice I get, the more I get the working in, knock the rust off and then we’ll get going.”

(On him sharing with his family this joyous moment)

”My ultimate goal was always to make it to this point and be able to retire my mom and dad. So, to have an opportunity to call them and tell them that they don’t have to work another day in their life, that was the best feeling ever to me. So, thinking about it I get a little emotional. My mom and dad are just happy. Told them they can just relax, it’s on me now. So, like I said, God is good and I’m just blessed.”

(On what the reaction was like in the locker room when he arrived)

”(Laughs) It was all love - everybody’s just excited. Everybody’s going to crack the jokes about the big deal, but at the end of the day, they’re happy I’m here, I’m happy I’m back. Like I said, these guys are my brothers, so we’re just excited to be back and I’m just happy to be back here working those guys.”

(On if DE Khalil Mack’s holdout was a factor at all in how the negotiations played out)

”Not at all. We were just trying to find a way to get it done, wasn’t worried about other things. Like I said, it’s done now, so we’re happy.”