Aaron Donald sponsored media appearance included effort by PR rep to block questions about helmet incident

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Six days after an incident that made Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald the talk of the league, Donald didn’t want to talk about the incident.

He did a media tour on Wednesday to promote a product. it’s a simple quid pro quo. The player submits to an interview, with the understanding that he’ll get a chance to promote his product.

Usually, there’s no effort to limit the subject matter of the interview portion of the questions. Sometimes there is. Sometimes the interviewer will comply. Sometimes the interviewer will politely explain that the questions must be asked. Sometimes the interviewer will simply cancel the interview because, frankly, it’s inappropriate for anyone who is being interviewed to attempt to apply restrictions on the topics to be discussed.

Donald’s appearances included a spot with Zach Gelb of CBS Sports Radio. In a very unusual move, a PR person actually interrupted the segment after Gelb asked one too many questions about the helmet-swinging fracas from L.A’s joint practice with the Bengals.

Here’s the relevant excerpt.

Gelb: “What happened last week in joint practices, because we all saw the video of you swinging helmets? And people were wondering what was going on there?”

Donald: “It was just a practice. Obviously, people got phones out and things like that. But I’m not gonna sit and talk about negative stuff that happened at a practice. My main focus is Buffalo.”

Gelb: “Was there any internal punishment?”

Donald: “We talked. We talked, so. . . ”

Gelb: “Were you thinking maybe you were going to get suspended or anything?”

PR person: “Hey Zach, we’re just gonna focus just here because Aaron’s here today to talk about [product we have no compulsion to mention]. So you do have two minutes left, if you want to pivot to your last question please.”

Gelb then tried, to his credit, to ask one more question about the incident. He asked what sparked the fight. Donald deftly twisted it into a pitch for his product. And that was that.

It’s unfortunate. Donald ultimately faced no real accountability for engaging in inherently dangerous conduct. The league inexplicably couldn’t suspend him, and the Rams predictably wouldn’t. Then, while on a paid media tour that included the ability to interview him in exchange for giving him the opportunity to sell the product, Donald didn’t want to answer simple questions about what caused him to blow a fuse so violently and shockingly.

He should have canceled or postponed the media tour. He surely doesn’t need the money. He definitely doesn’t need the headache.

Then again, neither did the guy who had football helmet violently slammed against the football helmet he was wearing last Thursday.

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