Los Angeles Rams star defensive tackle Aaron Donald will be enjoying quite a homecoming in Week 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers may have one of the biggest fan bases in the NFL, however, Donald is one of the few players that they are likely willing to make an exception for. The Pittsburgh native is one of their own after all and he has made efforts to ensure that his presence can still be felt back home despite now being on the West Coast.
Although Donald signed one of the most lucrative deals for a defensive player in the NFL, Donald never forgot his roots after making a seven-figure donation to his alma mater at Pitt. It is safe to say that he will have quite a few fans in the crowd that are quite familiar with him.
This is why Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is expecting him to receive a warm welcome, via ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry:
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on the expected reception for Rams DT Aaron Donald on Sunday: "He will be well received because he is a member of our community. This is a guy that’s Pittsburgh born and raised."
— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) November 6, 2019
There is certainly plenty of truth to Tomlin’s comments considering Donald’s strong connections to his hometown. It appears fans in Pittsburgh are poised for an afternoon of bittersweet feelings between their team and the town’s most notable homegrown superstar.
Before Donald established himself as the bane of quarterbacks and offensive lineman around the league, he was terrorizing college backfields as the ACC Player of the Year and a unanimous All-American. Unfortunately for them, wishing the best for him could have dire consequences for whichever team he is facing regardless of affiliation.
While his numbers may be a far cry from what they were last year, he is still in the midst of a dominant 2019 NFL season with 25 tackles, 5.0 sacks, and two forced fumbles while squaring off against multiple blockers on nearly every play. Donald is always looking to have a big game, but it would be understandable if there is some extra motivation to put on a good show for the home crowd.
As a result, Tomlin will likely be taking a similar approach with his offensive line in terms of having them double and triple-team the reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year the majority of the game.
Whether or not Donald has a big game, it will be interesting to see how the fans react to his presence at Heinz Field.