Brett Favre is minutes away from taking his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But just yesterday I had a discussion with PackerNation about how much one relatively unknown receiver means to me and today he penned a letter to Brett Favre that embodies his thankfulness and, yes, secures him once again as the epitome of “Packer People”. The letter was written by Donald Driver, long ago Driver was a seventh round pick and spent his entire career with the Green Bay Packers. Driver was known for his athletic ability and his beaming smile and today he shed some light on his career with the man who is right now being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame…Brett Favre.
Of all the players that Brett Favre played alongside…Donald Driver was the most longstanding, though perhaps the most unlikely. As a seventh round pick out of Division II Alcorn State, Driver had this to say about Brett welcoming him into the Packer fold:
“He’s a guy with a legendary sense of humor, but what a lot of people don’t know about him is that he’s got a huge heart, too. I saw that when I was just a seventh-round pick out of Alcorn State trying to make the Packers roster in 1999. I was an afterthought. But I’ll always remember when I caught my first pass from Brett during training camp. We were doing this drill called Pat and Go, and I ran the ball back to him. When I got there, I said, “Hey Brett, my name’s Donald Driver.” He looked at me and said, “I know who you are.”
That whole camp, every time I’d catch a pass and bring the ball back, he’d say, “You keep catching like that, there’s gonna be many more.” Brett put his trust in me early on when he had no reason to. As someone who was just trying to establish myself in the league, coming from Division II, that meant everything.”
Brett’s career was well established at the time and today he is rightly acknowledged by being inducted into the Hall of Fame. But little messages like that are priceless because they speak to the Brett Favre that we don’t see on the field. Driver gave us a glimpse of Brett that we rarely (if ever) see:
“I experienced a lot of great moments with Brett, but without question, the moment I’ll always remember is the game he played after his father, Irv, died in December 2003.
We were on the road in Oakland. I was in my hotel room, and I was getting a bunch of phone calls from different friends in Mississippi. See, my wife is from Mississippi, and her brother went to the Southern Miss, like Brett. People kept calling and saying, “Did you hear about Brett’s dad?”
Brett was supposed to be out playing golf at the time, but I went down to his room anyway.
I knocked on the door, and he opened it and … well, we just hugged each other. He told me to come in. I remember we just sat on the bed and talked. His exact words were, “I didn’t even tell my dad I love him.” It was one of those moments I’ll always remember. He felt like that was what he needed to tell his dad.
I told him, “Brett, if you need to go home and be with your family, go. We’ll play this game for you.”
He said, “No, my dad would want me to play, and I’m going to.”
That night, he spoke to the team in the hotel. He said, “If you guys have my back, I’ve got yours.”
And we all stood up and started screaming, “We’ve got your back!”
It was really emotional. I told the receivers before that game, “Everything he throws up, we bring down.” And that’s exactly what we did — when Wesley Walls caught that first TD in the corner, it was on. That Monday Night Football game was the most amazing game I ever played, and I know anyone who experienced it would say the same.
If I could communicate one thing to Brett this weekend as he goes into the Hall of Fame, I’d tell him simply this: Thank you.
Thank you, Brett.”
The discussion about Donald Driver yesterday had to do with the fact that though he will not be in the Hall of Fame alongside Brett…he is still a favorite receiver of all time to many Packers fans. Tonight, Brett gets in and I couldn’t be happier…he is a legend. And his legend extends to those he made great. Donald Driver is one of those who Brett believed in and Drive didn’t disappoint.
Here is to a great night of recognition to Brett Favre and a great night for all those great players who surrounded Brett during his career.