A shirtless Aaron Donald was at the podium outside the Los Angeles Coliseum on Wednesday afternoon after the Rams celebrated their Super Bowl title with a parade through nearby city streets.
The club had a “Run it Back” theme, an expression outlining the expectations of repeating as Super Bowl champions.
While Donald spoke, coach Sean McVay asked for the microphone and started chanting “Run it Back!” at Donald. McVay yelled it five times before Donald offered a response.
“We built a super team,” Donald said. “If we can bring the super team back and we can be world champions again, why not ‘Run it Back?'”
Perhaps right then and there was confirmation that Donald, widely considered the top defensive player in the NFL, will return for a ninth season. There has been speculation that the 30-year-old might consider retirement.
On this day, Donald was more interested in enjoying the Rams’ 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
“We’re having a good time and we’re world champions! World Champions!” Donald punctuated loudly. “We were the last team standing. We’re the best in the world. This is for the city of L.A. We did this at home.
“I want you guys to enjoy this — drink as much as we do tonight.”
McVay’s “Run it Back” chants also can be viewed as a sign he will be back with the team for a sixth season. There also has been speculation that the 36-year-old might not return.
But this festive day was more for celebratory exuberance than another day of football business as the players soaked in the atmosphere of riding in double-decker buses while interacting with fans.
Even the famous “HOLLYWOOD” sign on the hills was changed to say “RAMSHOUSE.”
“It’s unbelievable to be out there today with you guys,” Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “It’s been an unbelievable journey we’ve been on. You guys were right there with us and we appreciate you. Every step of the way. I’m so blessed to be a part of this team.”
Stafford is one of three Rams who are received keys to the city from Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti. The others are Donald and Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp.
Kupp enjoyed one of the best seasons in history for an NFL wide receiver. He topped it off with two touchdown catches in the Super Bowl, including the decisive one with 1:25 remaining.
Kupp wore a Kobe Bryant Lakers’ jersey to the parade.
“Kobe is synonymous with L.A.” Kupp said. “I feel it’s only right — we’re out here celebrating this championship. Kobe is a part of it. He belongs here. And I’ll tell you what: He set the standard.
“All I know, get back to work. Let’s ‘Run it Back.'”
Among the players who spoke at the podium was offensive left tackle Andrew Whitworth.
It has been a crazy month for Whitworth, who just completed his 16th NFL season. He was named Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year and won his first Super Bowl just days apart at age 40.
“Five years ago, I was told I was a little bit too old,” Whitworth said. “I was told that maybe my time was done. I will tell you this, for every single person that’s standing out there and they were doubted or someone doubted anything you have ever done — bet on yourself.
“It’s five years later and I’m holding this trophy up and I’m 40 years old.”
–Field Level Media