Updated: Aug 5, 2019
The NFL's youtube account punctuated a series called "Top 100 Players of 2019" by awarding a shining silver pyramid trophy with a giant #1 on it to Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Yes, the best football player on the planet according to the sport who enlists him, is Aaron Donald. Even Aaron was uncertain when looking down at his trophy, questioning "number one, a D-tackle huh?" To be elected as the best player in a sport where you play a position that nobody cares about is a pretty legendary accomplishment.
A seven-minute worship of Donald accompanied his no. 1 status, and it's what I'm basing this article on. The video is right below. Watch the damn thing, you won't be disappointed.
Darius Leonard, Emmanuel Ogbah, Myles Garrett, Dion Dawkins, Darius Slay, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and Kennan Allen all are quoted at the beginning claiming Aaron Donald as the best player in the NFL. Allen (like every college philosophy professor with his bald head and long mangy beard) quipped "Aaron Donald no. 1 first of all, facts" without a moment of hesitation.
I'd never entertained the idea of Donald as the best player in the NFL. I needed evidence. This video hit me in the face two dozen times with a sledgehammer with that word written on the handle.
Like with any player profile on Youtube, this video flashed some of Donald's best plays. But they added the sound, and that changed the game. You can't really comprehend how violent or how fast Aaron Donald is on the defensive line until you hear clear, up-close audio.
In the first clip, Donald shredded the Patriots O-line and stampeded towards Tom Brady, who had already handed the ball off to Sony Michel. After Michel whisked by Donald, no. 99 turned his body and in one motion: sprinted like three steps and then leapt and swallowed Michel from behind. Sony is a quick-footed fast running back. Donald is a burly defensive tackle. And he chased him down in less than an instant. When Donald slammed Michel on the turf, it sounded like a Semi truck going 95 miles per hour smacked into a cement wall.
I think I peed my shorts a little bit just from the mere knowledge that a man that scary exists and that he is paid millions of dollars every year to throw his mammoth body into smaller human beings.
But how is he capable of such behavior on the football field? Well, I compiled a list of quotes from his peers; other NFL players. Their sphincters tighten and they make faces like they've just seen the boogeyman whenever Aaron Donald is mentioned in conversation. They are horrified.
Luke Kuechley: "Disruptive"
Keenan Allen: "No. 1 first of all, facts"
Marcus Cannon: "Slippery"
George Kittle: "He's kinda better than everyone else"
Kyle Williams: "MVP of the League, and I'm not talking about just defense"
Alex Weber: "I'd rather have all my limbs cut off and be locked in a cage with a tiger than line up against Aaron Donald"
The dude is a 6-1, 284-pound iron golem with gunpowder in his joints. He's absolutely the fastest defensive tackle in the world (you don't need to fact-check that one). He's like an eight or nine on the Giannis Antetokounmpo freakishness scale and he's a short defensive lineman!
I would take him in a fight over Conor McGregor, and I would take him in a race over half of the running backs in the NFL. Snapping the ball across from Donald is like lighting firework and putting your face in front of it. It's going to explode and probably kill you. But will it kill your quarterback too?
Stopping Donald one-on-one is a fool's errand. He knows that. That's why he tries to coax lineman into "Amigo, Amigo" matchups as he calls them. One-on-one, he can literally jump around you sometimes--a move he says he copied off former teammate Robert Quinn--or beat you into the grass with his sheer force, or sprint right by you, or slip under you. It's like taking a swiss army knife, opening every gadget, and chucking it at someone's face. He has too many physical weapons. Every play, something's gonna work.
Aaron Donald, without question, is the best defensive lineman in the NFL. Now, about this "best overall player in the NFL" pickle we're in. I don't buy it. I think there is something inherent about being a defensive lineman that prevents you from being the best football player in the world. At least in the 2019 conversation.
How could I disagree with an entity as powerful as the NFL? Well, 1.) Roger Goodell is a lying clown. And 2.) Brady. Tom Brady is the greatest football player of all time, and he just won another Super Bowl. His sixth by the way. Start crackin the knuckles on your other hand, Tom.
During the video above, Donald runs at Brady after he got rid of the ball. Obviously, Donald doesn't follow through. Brady then says "You think I'm gonna hit you? You out of your mind?" Just like captain Jack Ross, keep smilin' Tom Shady. "You out of your mind" if you think Brady isn't the NFL's alpha, its no. 1 player.