Rams' Aaron Donald Wins Third NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award

In this Jan. 9, 2021, file photo, Aaron Donald #99 of the Los Angeles Rams looks on the NFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field in Seattle, Washington.
Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Los Angeles Rams' defensive tackle Aaron Donald has another award to add to his trophy case.

Donald joined elite company on Saturday night as he was named the 2020 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award winner. It is the third time in his career that Donald has won the award.

In doing so, Donald joined elite company becoming just the third player in NFL history to win the award three different times. The others? Former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor and current Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.

Speaking of J.J. Watt, Donald just barely beat out Watt's little brother, T.J. Watt for the award. Donald received 27 votes compared to Watt's 20.

The Los Angeles Rams’ unanimous All-Pro added the 2020 top defensive player honor to his wins in 2017 and 2018. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor (1981, ’82, 86) and Houston edge rusher J.J. Watt (2012, ’14, 15) have earned the award three times.

“You just named two great defensive players,” said Donald, “So any time your name is mentioned with greats, you will be honored -- especially there’s only a few that have accomplished that. To be the third to do it that is truly a blessing. It shows the body of work that I have; anytime your hard work is rewarded you are going to be happy about that. It is just a blessing.”

Statistics don’t define Donald, who often deals with double-teams — and sometimes more — because of how disruptive he is. Yet he remains disruptive, and he had 45 tackles, 13 and 1/2 sacks, 28 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles and dozens of sleepless nights suffered by opponents.

50 media members nationwide voted for the award. As mentioned, Donald received 27 votes, Watt 20, and Dolphins All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard received three. Howard led the NFL in interceptions in 2020.


Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.

How Jimmy Fallon is preparing for 2024 Paris Olympics with Rosetta Stone, Emily in Paris

Attacker sought after punching and stabbing Metro bus driver in Willowbrook

At age 29, Donald could have a few more such awards ahead of him.

“From stopping the run to rushing the passer to just trying to dominate, I think I am a rounded player,” he said. “I feel I can do everything. No matter the size of the person, as long as you can play at high level and be productive, that is all that matters.

“I will always say my overall game, my mindset is always trying to find ways to get better, stay consistent from stopping the run and rushing the passer. When you make a name for yourself it just gets 10 times harder. So I got to always find ways to improve as a rounded football player, and that’s what I will continue to do.”

The winner was revealed on the NFL Honors television show on Saturday night.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us