A continuation of the Packer Receivers of History series. To read the articles you missed, go to the Packer Receivers of History category page.
Donald Driver’s story is a heartwarming one for anyone who loves a rags to riches story. Anyone who begins their NFL career as a 7th round draft pick generally hopes to simply make the team. They rarely believe they will become one of the team’s all-time top players in the organization’s history.
This is not what Donald Driver believed. Nor is it what he achieved.
If the fact that the Packers snatched Brett Farve away from the Atlanta Falcons makes you chuckle, you’re going to love this. In 1999, the Packers traded a return man for the 213th overall pick in the draft. The team that owned that draft pick?
The Chicago Bears.
The player the Packers selected with that pick?
Alcorn State’s Donald Driver.
In his rookie season, Driver only had three receptions for 31 yards. Still, he made a big statement right out of the gates. Donald’s very first reception in the NFL was an eight yard reception for a touchdown.
Driver stepped into the #3 receiver role in 2000 and contributed 322 yards and one touchdown. In 2001 he added 167 yards and another touchdown to his NFL resume.
Then, in 2002, Driver became the #1 receiver and his career took off.
Driver posted his first of many 1,000+ yard season in 2002. He made one step back in 2003, only generating 621 yards. Following that season, Donald Driver was virtually unstoppable.
From the 2004 through the 2009 season, Driver posted one 1,000 yard season after another. In that span of time he generated 6,846 yards and 35 touchdowns.
In 2008 Driver broke Sterling Sharpe’s Packer record for most consecutive games with a reception. In 2009 he passed Sharpe to become the second most prolific receiver in Packer history.
Driver’s career took a seeming downturn in 2010. That season, he only generated 565 yards on the season. But, just as a long and productive career in the NFL appeared that it might be coming to a close never reaching the big game, the Packers sneaked their way into the post season and shifted into high gear on their way through the playoffs to the Super Bowl.
In the Super Bowl, Driver had just two catches for 28 yards, but he had added the final missing piece to his tenure as a Packer receiver. In addition to seven 1,000 yard season and four Pro Bowl appearances, Driver was able to hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy and don a Super Bowl ring.
Driver played two more seasons with the Packers but his role diminished quickly. In 2012, he retired from the game after setting Packer records for most seasons with 1,000 yards (7), most career receiving yards (10,137), most consecutive games with a reception (133), most seasons with 50 receptions or more (9), and most receptions in a Packer career (743).
Donald’s outstanding play and smile will always delight Packer fans. But, his rags to riches story and his ability to overcome every obstacle on his way to the top is what’s really inspiring. As Donald Driver himself says, “People are going to doubt you, but if you continue to believe, you could be anything.”