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Rams' Aaron Donald Discusses Fight with Bengals at Joint Practice: 'It Was Football'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 31, 2022

Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald addressed the fight he was in during a joint practice with the Cincinnati Bengals, which saw him swinging a helmet at his opponents during the scuffle.

Warren Sharp @SharpFootball

keep ya head on a swivel 👀 <a href="https://t.co/Oywc3Dt52k">pic.twitter.com/Oywc3Dt52k</a>

"It was just a practice," he told the Associated Press' Rob Maaddi on Wednesday. "It was football. I don't really wanna go back to nothing negative that happened and talk about something that happened in a practice. My main focus is Buffalo."

Donald also confirmed that he addressed the situation with head coach Sean McVay and his teammates.

Neither Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor—who called the practice between the two teams "a little scuffle-y"—or McVay, at least publicly, made a big deal out of the situation either.

"I don't know exactly what instigated it," McVay told reporters. "I think, in some instances, it's teams defending each other. Fortunately, my understanding is nobody got hurt, and we'll move on from it. Not going to make a bigger deal than what it is. Not going to look at pointing fingers."

While Donald and his coach downplayed the situation, not everyone else was willing to do so:

Hayden Grove @H_Grove

The Aaron Donald things isn’t a Browns issue, but it is a Myles Garrett issue.<br><br>Myles was torn apart for a half a season and missed significant games and— because of who he is— has repaired his reputation. <br><br>Donald will probably endure neither.

Daryl Ruiter @RuiterWrongFAN

The difference in the reaction and coverage in the Aaron Donald helmet swing today vs Myles Garrett is impossible to miss. Where’s all the “assault” &amp; “he should never play again” energy that was there for Myles?

Judy Battista @judybattista

Myles Garrett missed the final 6 games of the 2019 season as part of an indefinite suspension for swinging a helmet during a game. The NFL has not been in the business of policing joint practices the way they do games, but that's the only difference from Aaron Donald today.

Joe DiBiase @SneakyJoeSports

Aaron Donald does this in a game, he gets suspended.<br><br>Aaron Donald does this on his own time in public, he gets suspended via the personal conduct policy.<br><br>Why would the practice field be the only place on earth where he doesnt get suspended?

James Palmer @JamesPalmerTV

Aaron Donald uses an opponent’s helmet as a weapon and you can actually hear him hit another player. This is out of control. <a href="https://t.co/bNL1CKEn11">https://t.co/bNL1CKEn11</a>

The difference between Donald's situation and when Myles Garrett swung a helmet at Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in a 2019 game—which resulted in a season-ending suspension for Garrett—is that the NFL does not have jurisdiction to levy punishments for situations that occur during joint practices.

According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler (via Ben Baby and Sarah Barshop), the Rams plan to "handle the matter internally, with any potential discipline to remain private."

Donald, 31, is widely considered one of the game's most impactful superstars and arguably its best defensive player. He's an eight-time Pro Bowler, seven-time first-team All-Pro selection and a defending champion who has registered double-digit sacks in five straight seasons and six times overall.

The three-time Defensive Player of the Year is one of the best interior pass-rushers in NFL history and one of the league's iconic figures. But one would imagine that if a similar scuffle occurs in a game, the NFL will take into consideration his actions during the scrum with the Bengals while determining any potential discipline.

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