Donald Driver: A Fan Favorite
Donald Driver calls it a career and what a career it was, on and off the field. Came to Green Bay as a skinny 7th round draft choice who was more high jumper than pass catcher, and leaves as the Packers' all-time leading receiver. I had the privilege of an up close and personal look at everything in between and here's what stands out.
The league opener against Minnesota in '03. Donald went high for a ball and came down right on his head. He was hospitalized with a neck injury. You know it's easy to be fearless when you've never had reason to be afraid, but after that, Donald did, and he wasn't quite the same the rest of that season. He followed it with 6 straight 1000 yarders. Whatever demons Donald had, he conquered them.
Favorite play comes from the Packers Super Bowl season and was against the 49'ers at Lambeau field. Donald makes a catch and seemingly ran over, around and through the entire San Francisco defense on his way to the endzone. He went 61 yards for the score and besides the throw, it was all Donald. Just an amazing individual effort.
Look around the league. Wide receiver can be a rather selfish position, but not in Green Bay, thanks to Donald Driver. As a pro bowl player and the elder statesman in that meeting room, he set a very unselfish tone, and one by one, new additions to the receiving corp fell right in line. Attitudes are contagious, and Donald's was one worth catching.
Surprisingly enough, Donald's greatest contribution, leadership-wise, may have come this past season. Think about it, a reduced, and at times, a non-existent role for the team's all-time leading receiver. It's hard not to take it personal when you're the person involved, and yet not a negative word out of Donald's mouth. We in the media gave him plenty of opportunities and he could have made headlines, but with him, it was always about the "we" and not the "me".
Been around the team on an almost daily basis for going on Forty years, the two most beloved Green Bay Packers, Bart Starr, and, Donald Driver, and rightfully so.