Last evening, Los Angeles Rams, DT Aaron Donald was ranked the #1 player in the entire NFL per the votes of his peers on the 2019 NFL Top 100.
This is the 100th anniversary of the NFL, and for 60 of those years I’ve been watching the game grow and evolve. Today, NFL football exceeds all other major sporting events in popularity. Through the years, I’ve been lucky to see the greats, the near-greats and the busts.
Coming to TST three years ago, I brought a different perspective earning the moniker “The Professor.” With the experience I have, I evaluate performance based on a long resume of history.
Few players make my list of the greatest of all time. There are so many different eras. Today’s reliance on the forward pass compared to the days of “two yards and pound of dust” are persistent reminders that I’m an old. A younger generation of fans and pseudo experts on television and print have no clue in many instances what they’re talking about when they throw out the word “great.”
My eyes don’t lie to me. I see what I see and reflect upon what I saw. I believed that the greatest player of all time was RB Jim Brown, a monster of a player who dominated the game when running the football was key to victory.
Today, the running back position is not as important as it once was. Today, everyone focuses on the quarterback and the passing offense. Missing are the good old days reflective of the dominant defenses culminating in the 1985 Chicago Bears. It’s been a downhill slide every since.
I mention this because of what I am about to say comes from the heart, not just my head.
There is no argument
There is no debate that best defensive tackle in the game is Aaron Donald.
In my opinion, he’s not only the best defensive tackle—he’s the best defensive player in the game today and will invariably go down as maybe the greatest defensive player ever to play the game.
I believe this because playing defensive tackle is not a position which garners the headlines or the attention in the fantasy football world. Its a tough position to play among the mush of bodies battling each other as the line of scrimmage. If a player at this position can regularly during the course of a game make two key plays, the words “one of the best” is immediately attached to him.
That’s not the case with Aaron Donald. He’s an absolute beast, dominating the line scrimmage on each snap of the ball.
Let me give you an example.
As a diehard Ram fan and season ticket holder, I attended the best game of 2019 at the Coliseum: the Monday Night ESPY-winning classic against Kansas City Chiefs. It’s hard to concentrate or focus in games like that, because every 35 seconds another play is underway causing the heart and mind to refocus on the next play. The replays on the jumbotron don’t have enough time to process what just happened between plays because we’re too busy jumping for joy for the great play being replayed on the screen.
I’m not a big fan of re-watching games, because I already know the outcome. I was there or saw it when it originally aired. But I took the time the other night to re-watch the Kansas City game, thinking, “What the heck. There’s nothing else on TV.”
What kept me transfixed was Aaron Donald. He had one of those games which I have rarely ever seen. The things I missed at the game where eye-opening to me. His tenacity, quickness, strength were all on display. Even if he wasn’t making the strip sack causing a fumble leading to a touchdown, his presence led to the other defensive players making big plays.
I was stunned marveling at the entire offensive line of the Chiefs moving on the snap to cover him—double- and triple-teamed. He’s in the backfield tackling the runner for a loss or putting pressure up the middle. Off the block, he dives back into the hole holding the Chiefs to a short gain on the run. This leads to a predictable passing situation, and when QB Patrick Mahomes goes back to pass, Donald goes through the double team.
This isn’t just another game where a player has a great game. It’s what he does week in and week out. There is simply no one like him, and in another 100 years they will still be trying to compare the then current defensive tackles to him.
He’s just that good. Anyone whose ever played that position knows what I’m talking about.
How Rams fans should feel about having the best player in the NFL locked up
To say Rams fans are lucky to have Donald is a given.
I say we should be grateful.
Grateful to be able to watch a player who from the moment he made that 4th down stop coming out of nowhere against the Seattle Seahawks in 2015 sealing the victory, we knew he was going to be special.
As a more then just a causal fan of the Rams, I’ve seen plenty of great players come and go from our squad. I hold RB Eric Dickerson and QB Kurt Warner as favorites with a bevy of also rans who I have adored watching over the years.
But the one player I can hold up as someone who is not merely a great Ram player but probably the greatest player I’ve ever seen, especially at the position he plays, is Aaron Donald.
Its easy to see why he was voted the best player in the game today. In my opinion, he should have received a 100 rating in Madden 20 rather then the 99 he received. He’s not going to make the splashy headlines as the quarterbacks, receivers and running backs do in this league, but he is my opinion the most valuable player in the NFL.
I recently purchased a huge painting of Aaron Donald. I mounted it right across from my desk. When I look at it, I am immediately inspired. If I’m having a crummy day, I know I have to lift myself up and get back into the game.
After a 60 years of watching football, I can finally say move over Jim Brown.
Aaron Donald is not just the best at his position.
He’s the greatest football player I’ve ever seen.