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Editorial: Donald Driver worthy of accolades

7:13 PM, Feb. 5, 2013  |  Comments
Green Bay Packers receiver Donald Driver (80) reacts after making a catch against the Detroit Lions during Sunday's game at Lambeau Field. Photo by Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette
Green Bay Packers receiver Donald Driver (80) reacts after making a catch against the Detroit Lions during Sunday's game at Lambeau Field. Photo by Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette
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It's rare to find the athlete whose effort, commitment and popularity on the field are equaled by his effort, commitment and popularity off the field.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver is that rare individual.

Driver is set to formally announce his retirement today in the Lambeau Field Atrium after a 14-year pro career spent in Green Bay. A seventh-round draft choice in 1999, Driver became a fan favorite with his determination and a trademark smile. There are many reasons fans were drawn to him, but consider these:

? We love underdogs. The 213th overall pick in the NFL draft out of Alcorn State seemed unlikely to make the team much less be a record-setter. But he worked hard and persevered.

? He performed on the field. Driver holds a number of team records - including all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and most 1,000-yard seasons - and a highlight reel full of spectacular plays.

? He performed off the field. Driver gave back to the community. He and his wife started the Donald Driver Foundation to combat homelessness and help under-privileged kids. It has helped at least 17 families in the Houston and Green Bay areas find affordable housing and hands out 10 $1,000 scholarships a year to students in Texas, Mississippi and Wisconsin. He co-chaired the campaign to raise funds for the New Community Shelter in Green Bay in 2003. He wrote a children's book and donated the proceeds to his foundation.

? He did all this without drama. He played the game with daring and abandon at times. Yet he stayed out of the police blotter. In fact, the most drama he created was either going over the middle to snare a pass or winning ABC's "Dancing with the Stars."

His popularity was so great that he took over from Brett Favre the annual Packers celebrity softball game and made it his own without losing any of the popularity of the event. Tickets for his retirement announcement sold out within minutes. A Press-Gazette Media online poll (which we know is not scientific) overwhelmingly supported retiring his No. 80.

He said he wanted to only play for one team - the Packers - and he did. After a season in which his role was reduced, Driver kept his word and announced he'd retire as a Packer instead of playing somewhere else.

Over his 14 seasons with the Packers, Driver set an example other athletes would do well to emulate. Driver will be remembered for his smile and grace on the field as well as off. Hopefully he will continue to visit Green Bay. The city and the team could have no better ambassador.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
15%
576 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
23%
857 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
27%
1018 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
34%
1272 votes

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

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