I’m back! What did I miss? Oh, the Punt God was a rapist? Cool! Anything else? Aaron Donald got away with being a shithead again? Well, if I had to pick one of those things to talk about, let’s go with the more subdued one since I’ve somewhat had my fill of sexual predators for one off-season. Fuck Matt Ariza, by the way. Unless he gets picked up again, I probably won’t touch that. At least the Bills managed to do the right thing after a couple of days.

So let’s finally talk about Aaron Donald. He’s dirty! I doubt this comes as a surprise to any of you, dear readers, seeing as all of you are incredibly sexy and well-informed with excellent observational skills and a wit to match. But you’d hardly notice the general public discussion around him in more mainstream sectors. It’s actually kind of amazing.

Usually once a player does something publicly dirty during a game, especially as a defender, that’s it for their reputation. Ndamukong Suh? He had a few questionable hits before the stomp, but after the stomp he was villian #1. Albert Haynesworth spent years trying to shake off his dirty stomp reputation and eventually succeeded by changing the narrative to how lazy and useless he was. Everyone instantly turned on Myles Garrett after the Mason Rudolph helmet smack, despite Garrett being a puppy dog otherwise and Mason Rudolph being extremely punchable. OBJ’s had a lot of enemies after the Josh Norman game. The only player I can think of who seemed to successfully dodge a well-known dirty rep is Aqib Talib, who ripped Crabtree’s chain off twice and jammed his fingers in another player’s eyes. He basically got away with those actions and I still think it’s bullshit, especially the eye gouge.  I have no respect for anyone who goes for the eyes the way he did. I would have respected Talib more if he just straight-up punched the guy. Going for his eye? Fuck you. Bitch move.

Donald though has seemingly come out the other side of multiple incidents now seemingly unaffected. It’s probably due to a couple of factors. One, he’s arguably the best player in the NFL, and it’s bad form to try and hype up a guy as the face of the league if he’s a well-known asshole. Two, he hasn’t had quite the extreme public display of a Suh Stomp or Garrett Helmet bash, both of which happened in very visible primetime games. For posterity, lets look at his most notable infractions.

Shoving Quinton Patton and getting ejected – This came during some late-game chippiness and otherwise honestly doesn’t strike me as too bad, until you watch the replay and see Donald grab the back of Patton’s neck before he shoves him. I don’t know what’s up with that, but it seemed deliberate and hurtful.
-Starting a fight with Justin Britt after the game – There’s something to be said about putting your helmet back on just to go out after the game is over and get frisky. It’s one thing to get frisky in-game, after a play when emotions are high, and as long as the actions aren’t more than some shoving I don’t really judge anyone. But going out of your way to try and start shit after the game ends? Hmmmm.
-Fighting Nick Gates – Gates actually starts this fight and both rightly deserved their penalties. But Donald escalates when he grabs the facemask and starts yanking, which is a step above shoving. There is a reason facemasking is a penalty, it’s unsafe and can damage a player’s neck to be controlled like that.
-Choking Lucas Patrick – This is the one where I started to notice Donald’s tendency to retaliate and also the one that should have gotten more scrutiny. He just straight up appears to pinch his trachea. He wasn’t flagged despite an official being right there, but he was fined 100k.
-Choking DJ Humphries – This one got a bit of attention and is probably the one that most of you are most familiar with. He once again goes for the neck of a player in a post-play scuffle and you can see the moment DJ Humphries realizes this is actually serious. Donald got fined but not suspended, as it was a playoff game and they weren’t going to suspend the #1 defender in the league.
-Swinging Helmets – I’m not sure what brainiac decided two teams nowhere near each other and coming off a Super Bowl battle should have a dual practice for preseason but they got what they wanted out of it: drama. Donald was like “It’s just practice bruh” and honestly, my only response to that is “If it’s just practice, why is it worth getting worked up enough to swing helmets at people, something you shouldn’t even do in-game?”. I don’t know what set him off, maybe he was indeed provoked, but Myles Garrett rightfully had his season ended by smooshing Mason Ruldolphs skull because you can’t do that. Practice or not, provoked or not, you can’t do that shit.

At the very least, I think Donald deserves to be held under a microscope going forward. As the best defender in the league, I’m sure he’s actually victim to a lot of underhanded techniques by lesser players, things that likely go unnoticed since Donald is a DT and is often right in the middle of the pile where actions get obscured. But he’s also proven to respond in kind, and he needs to be held more accountable. Fines won’t do anything. Suspensions and public scrutiny might. I didn’t want to make this comic and I don’t want Aaron Donald to be a dirty player, but after repeated infractions, we need to be looking at him a lot more closely.