Aaron Donald is as big a Pittsburgher as they come. He was born and raised in Pittsburgh, spent his formative years rooting for the Steelers, and eventually dominated college ball at Pitt. He went on to become the Rams’ top draft pick in 2014, proving to be a good selection by winning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Now, for the first time in his young career, the star defensive tackle is gearing up to face his hometown team, as the Rams host the Steelers at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday. Keep in mind, however: Donald’s allegiance to the Iron City evidently doesn’t extend to the field.
So he’s glad to dole out tickets to the many family members flying in for the contest — on one condition.
“They better root for the Rams. They better not be cheering for the Steelers,” Donald said, via Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com. “That’s the rule. They have to root for us.”
Donald, still only 24-years-old, is taking a veteran approach to the game, treating it as ordinary as possible, but had to acknowledge the opportunity is “pretty cool.”
“It will be pretty cool playing against them, but I’m just going to take it like another game and just try to do my job and come up with a win,” Donald said. “That was the team I grew up watching all my life. It’s going to be a pretty cool experience.”
Donald’s job is an unenviable one this week. He’ll be asked to disrupt one of the league’s highest-scoring and in-sync offenses, led by the same statue of a quarterback who, after all these years, still sometimes, somehow possesses wet-soap-in-hand escapability.
Donald, who’s already notched 2.5 sacks this season, has the necessary talent (and talent around him) to get the job done against the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger, the reigning AFC Player of the Week. Helping pull off the upset — Vegas installed the Rams as two-point home underdogs — and doing it in front of those who came in droves for him would be that much sweeter for Donald.