Chris Long believes Aaron Donald’s talents go beyond his position.
The retired defensive end spent a decade in the NFL before calling it a career earlier this year and took credit for recognizing Donald’s skill early on before the Rams star earned back-to-back NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors.
“I’d like to credit myself with being the first person to know he was going to be amazing,” Long joked to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s “Huddle Up with Gus” podcast. “We used to joke his rookie camp that he was going to be in the Hall of Fame, but I kind of wasn’t joking.”
Long, who was in St. Louis for Donald’s first two seasons from 2014-16 before moving on to the Patriots and eventually the Eagles, called Donald “the best football player in the world, in my opinion” as he credited his drive and determination.
“I’ve never seen anybody work so hard, who had so much talent and play so violent and play with such tenacity,” Long said. “This guy would fight you on the field at the drop of a hat, and I respect that about him, and outworks everybody.
“I would be the last person in the film room usually at the end of camp, and I would go in there and watch tape once everybody was at home. I started going in there and opening the door and turning the lights on to find my pen or notebook, and he was in there every night.”
Donald finished the Rams’ loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl 53 with five tackles and one quarterback hit on Tom Brady, capping a productive 2018 campaign in which he set a new Rams franchise single-season record and the NFL record for most sacks by an interior lineman with 20.5. He also led the league in tackles for loss (25) and quarterback hits (41).