Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald joined some elite company Saturday night. He became only the third player in NFL history to repeat as defensive player of the year.
Former Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor won back-to-back awards in 1981-82, and Texans defensive end J.J. Watt won the award in 2014-15.
Donald won last year after making 11 sacks in 14 games and was rewarded with a $135 million extension in the offseason. He was even better this season with 20.5 sacks in 16 games, the most by an interior lineman in NFL history.
“Anytime you’re rewarded for the success you have, you’re going to be happy because you put the body of work in,” Donald said earlier this week, via the Los Angeles Times. “A lot of hard work. A lot of training. A lot of things you do behind the scenes.
“And to see you get rewarded, you know, you’d be happy for that.”
Donald beat out Bears linebacker Khalil Mack, getting 45 of the 50 votes. Mack, who made 47 tackles, 12.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, four pass breakups, 10 tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries after the Raiders traded him to Chicago, received the other five votes.
Mack won the award in 2016.