The man earlier than Aaron Donald was John Randle.
Starting in 1992, Randle had not less than 10 sacks for 9 consecutive seasons. His Minnesota teammates cherished to listen to him barking within the midst of the scrum, screaming, reciting biographical gems in regards to the opposing blockers that he’d gleaned from the media guides.
“When you had appeared in My Honest Girl in highschool, or if you happen to have been on the talk group, you’d hear about it,” mentioned Wealthy Gannon, the CBS analyst and Randle’s Minnesota teammate. “He would chirp the entire sport. However the principle factor about John was that his coronary heart was too massive for his chest.”
Then there was Merlin Olsen.
“After I acquired to the Rams, Merlin and Deacon Jones instructed me the way in which I used to be going to play,” mentioned Jack Youngblood, who turned a Corridor of Famer. “They mentioned, ‘We play on their facet of the ball.’
“Merlin was so robust along with his shoulders and arms. So was Larry Brooks. They’d put a hand down on every shoulder and go face masks to face masks. Then they’d flip their shoulders and hips and slide into that crease. They might embarrass guards. We’d watch movie the subsequent day. We’d sit there and go, ‘Whoa.’’’
There was Joe Greene, too. However, as legendary as he was, he was surrounded by Corridor of Fame busts-to-be in Pittsburgh.
“He was greater than a whole lot of the offensive linemen again then,” Gannon mentioned. “He would take them and forklift them into the quarterbacks. But it surely’s at all times laborious to match completely different eras.”
It’s true. That’s the reason we’re overrun with GOATs.
Who’s to say that Tom Brady was the Best Of All Time, any greater than Sammy Baugh or Otto Graham? The oldtimers didn’t have 4 wide-out units, and it took near-dismemberment to name roughing the passer again then.
All you possibly can actually be is the Best Of Your Time.
If there may be one point of unanimity in right this moment’s NFL, it’s that Donald, drafted 13th overall as a result of he was solely 6-foot-1, towers above all defenders. What separates him is just not what he’s doing however the place he’s doing it from.
Many of the nice sackers in NFL historical past have attacked outdoors. That doesn’t devalue Bruce Smith, Reggie White, JJ Watt, Kevin Greene and the others. Many instances they have been moved inside to search out matchups. However Donald and Randle did it virtually solely from the center, with heavier site visitors and extra double-teams.
Donald has 57 ½ sacks in his previous 62 video games and led the NFL with 20 ½ in 2018. This yr he had 13 ½. The NFL chief, T.J. Watt of Pittsburgh, had 15 from the sting.
“There are a half-dozen issues you are able to do with a man on the skin,” Gannon mentioned. “You may put a good finish over there to assist the deal with. Slide the safety. Chip with the operating again. However Donald comes from the within and simply collapses the pocket and walks a 330-pound guard proper into the quarterback. It’s not like you possibly can stick a good finish behind the guard. It’s an actual downside.
“Towards a man like that, the quarterback can’t step into the throws. He has to belief the integrity of the A-B hole. Donald disrupts all that. He makes the quarterback change the launch level. That’s why you’re seeing these cellular guys, like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, at quarterback.”
Aaron Rodgers, who’s Saturday’s goal for Donald and the Rams within the NFC Divisional Playoff sport, additionally has successful toes. This week he’s lacking David Bakhtiari, his prized protector.
The Packers scored a league-high 509 factors and acquired factors on a league-high 49.7 p.c of their possessions with a league-low 11 turnovers. Now they run into Donald and mates up entrance, and a secondary that fools quarterbacks weekly.
In the meantime, Youngblood sits in Florida and sees The Fearsome Foursome embodied in a single Worrisome Onesome.
“Loads of gamers don’t know the place the ball is,” Youngblood mentioned. “Donald is aware of the place it’s on each play. He will get double-teamed each time however he by some means will get by means of the crack and will get up the sector.
“When you’ve seen him within the locker room you possibly can inform how dad-gum robust he’s. It’s only a mixture of energy and quickness and intelligence. That man can play on my group anytime.”
When Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips was requested if Earl Campbell was in a category by himself, he mentioned he wasn’t positive. “However no matter class he’s in, it don’t take lengthy to name the roll,” Phillips mentioned.
At 29, Donald’s greatest argument for GOAT consideration is the way in which he ranges past his job description.
Uniqueness is a superpower, too.