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Aaron Donald, one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, has announced his retirement from the Los Angeles Rams and the NFL

Donald broke the news with a post on X Friday afternoon. 

"For 10 years, I have been fortunate to play the game of football at the highest level," Donald said in the post. "I'm thankful for the people I've met along the way, the friendships I've built and the things I've accomplished with my teammates and individually." 

Donald was a Pro Bowler in each of his 10 NFL seasons, which were all spent with the Rams. A three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Donald was an All-Pro each year from 2015-21. During his final season, Donald was tabbed as an All-Pro for the eighth time. 

Donald's greatest NFL moment occurred on the game's biggest stage. Trailing in the second half of Super Bowl LVI, his hit on Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow on a running play seemed to change the complexion of the game. Donald sacked Burrow twice in the game and his pressure on Burrow on the Bengals' final offensive snap forced a game-sealing incomplete pass. 

Donald reportedly considered retiring after the Rams' 23-20 win over the Bengals. But he returned and was named to his ninth Pro Bowl during what was a tough rebuilding season for Los Angeles. The 2023 season, though, was fruitful from a team and individual standpoint for Donald. The Rams made it back to the playoffs with Donald playing a key role in the team's success. 

The 32-year-old is a shoo-in to be inducted into the Hall of Fame during his first year of eligibility. He is on the short list of the greatest defensive players in league annals, a list that also includes pass rushers Lawrence Taylor and Reggie White and linebacker Dick Butkus. Donald is considered arguably the greatest defensive player of his era alongside former Texans and Cardinals defensive end JJ Watt, who retired last offseason. 

Donald has the second-highest score of any defensive tackle in NFL history in Pro Football Reference's Hall of Fame monitor. He is second to only Cowboys legend Bob Lilly, who like Donald is on the short list of some of the greatest defensive players in NFL history. 

He may be behind Lilly, but Donald is ranked ahead of several other heavy hitters. He's just ranked above Cowboys Hall of Famer and Super Bowl XII co-MVP Randy White, former league MVP Alan Page (the first defensive player to win the award) and two-time Defensive Player of the Year and four-time Super Bowl champion Joe Greene. 

As far as what's next for him, Donald admitted that he wasn't sure, but he said that he is excited "about the off the field possibilities." He added that he is looking forward to spending more time with his family that includes his wife, Eric, and his three children. 

"I can't wait to watch them live our their dreams," Donald said, "just as they watched me live out mine."