I love an underdog. There is just something about seeing someone get overlooked and later prove that he was one chance short of greatness, that really gets me. The Packers’ organization itself should be an underdog…small community and a team that tries to choose players that are “Packer people” and doesn’t deal in the Greg Hardy’s of the NFL (generally speaking of course). The Packers are a team that seems to be in the shadow of the national NFL media and yet all other franchises find themselves in the shadow of the Packers’ historical greatness and, in fact, every champion that the NFL ever crowns finds itself beneath the feet of Vince Lombardi when they raise that trophy on high.
Hearing the news that Donald Driver was going to be inducted into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame reminded me of that brilliant receiver with the brilliant smile. Donald Driver was an underdog. Drafted in the 7th round out of Alcorn State by the Packers in 1999, Driver immediately applied his raw talent and hard-work ethic to the field. The seventh rounder with tons of ability became a favorite target of one Brett Favre, who will certainly be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Driver’s consistency and availability (missing 4 games in his career) made him not only the iron man receiver but the Packers’ all-time leader in catches (1,143) and receiving yards (10,137) which was enough to best one James Lofton, another Packers Hall of Famer. Driver…you are in good company man.
But Donald Driver was, and has continued to be “Packer People” he has always been so appreciative of the support of fans and to this day is spokesperson for the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. In a word, Driver always stayed “grounded”. It’s not that he didn’t embrace fame… he went on and won Dancing With the Stars…but he always carried it so lightly, naturally. Looking back, I can hardly think of another player that I wanted to get a Super Bowl ring more badly than Donald Driver. And that Super Bowl XLV was the perfect pinnacle to his career.
So here’s to you Donald, you worked hard and you deserve every accolade you get as far as I’m concerned. It must have been tough, wondering if you were going to be drafted. But we in Packernation are so glad you found the perfect fit in Green Bay. Congratulations to a player who somehow seems more like a friend or neighbor. You are special, man…and we wish all the best to you and your family.
Go Pack (and go “Packer People”)!