Minutes before Super Bowl LVI kicked off, NBC’s Rodney Harrison dropped a bombshell report that Los Angeles Rams defensive star Aaron Donald might retire after the game. But according to Donald, the report wasn’t supposed to land on national television.

“He told me this,” Harrison said of Donald during NBC’s Super Bowl pregame show, “if he wins a Super Bowl, there’s a strong possibility that he could walk away from the game and retire.”

After Donald helped lead the Rams to their first Super Bowl victory in Los Angeles, he didn’t deny pondering retirement from his eight-year NFL career, but he certainly never expected the narrative to loom over the broadcast.

Greg Bishop of Sports Illustrated published a feature on Donald Wednesday morning, which opened with details of the defensive star’s conversation with Harrison and how it landed on NBC’s Super Bowl pregame show:

All the drama started when Donald met with NBC broadcasters during Super Bowl week. Before sitting down, he had an informal conversation with Rodney Harrison, one Donald calls “personal,” meaning between them. When the retired NFL safety joked that Donald might play 15 additional seasons, the defensive tackle responded honestly, answering for, he believed, an audience of one. “Honestly, you never know,” he responded. “This could be my last year.”

Harrison shared that sentiment on national television before the game, but Donald didn’t find out until afterward, when reporters asked him about it. “I wouldn’t expect [Harrison] to do something like that,” Donald says. “I wouldn’t want him to.” Notice what he didn’t say: that Harrison was wrong.

Donald didn’t want his thoughts about retirement to become a national story, but Harrison may not have considered their conversation to be “personal,” especially if the meeting was never described as being off the record.

After the game, Donald was in tears as he attempted to absorb the emotions of winning a Super Bowl and was immediately asked by Michele Tafoya about the prospect of retiring.

“I’m in the moment, I’m gonna enjoy this right now with these guys,” Donald answered.

Donald still has not made an official decision on his NFL future. Bishop wrote fans should bet on the Rams superstar playing another season, but noted, “it’s far from the certainty that has been hopefully described.”

[The Big Lead] [Sports Illustrated]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to bcontes@thecomeback.com