Los Angeles Rams star defensive tackle Aaron Donald voiced his displeasure with the idea of playing NFL games without any fans in attendance this season.
“You need fans to play a game,” Donald told reporters Thursday on a video conference call. “I don’t see how you could play games with no fans. It takes all the excitement and fun out the game.
“… I feel like the fans is what pick you up. The fans is what makes the game exciting. The fans will give you that extra juice when you’re tired and fatigued, when you make that big play and you hear 80,000 fans going crazy. That just pumps you up.”
Donald and the Rams are scheduled to host the Dallas Cowboys in their regular-season opener Sept. 13 at the new SoFi Stadium.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said earlier this week that professional sports in the state could begin to move toward a return in early June without fans.
The NFL allowed the reopening of certain team facilities this week to a limited number of staff members. The only players allowed to return are those who were rehabilitating injuries before closures, and no coaching staff members are allowed in facilities.
However, the Rams’ facility remains closed to team personnel, except players who are going through rehabilitation for injuries, due to strict state regulations related to the coronavirus pandemic that have yet to be loosened.
Donald, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, recorded 48 total tackles, 12.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and two passes defensed last season, his sixth with the Rams. The 28-year-old defensive lineman has notched 72 sacks in 94 career games.