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Other view: Driver was a rarity among athletes today

2:49 PM, Feb. 6, 2013  |  Comments
Donald Driver
Donald Driver
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Donald Driver wasn't supposed to be in the Lambeau Field atrium Wednesday, officially announcing his retirement and bowing out as the Green Bay Packers all-time leading receiver.

He wasn't supposed to last in the National Football League for 14 seasons. He was a relatively unheralded player from an unheralded college (Alcorn State University in Mississippi), and was selected in the last round of the 1999 NFL draft. In today's draft parlance, Driver was almost Mr. Irrelevant.

His career didn't explode out of the blocks, either. He caught a grand total of 37 balls in his first three seasons. But Packers' management saw something in Driver to keep him around, and it was one of the best decisions they ever made. He was selected to four Pro Bowls and holds nearly every Packers receiving record, including most 1,000-yard seasons, most receptions, most receiving yards, most consecutive games with a reception, most receptions in the postseason and most games played by a wide receiver.

He catapulted past legends like Don Hutson, James Lofton and Sterling Sharpe in the Packers' record books.

Packers fans likely will remember Driver as much for what he did off the field. He was - and this is saying a lot in an age of athletes gone wild - a good citizen for all those years. He talked it up with the fans, had that winning smile and was a good family man. He appeared in commercials for the ultimate "family" restaurant, McDonald's, and could have a little fun with the name similarity.

He did that "Dancing With The Stars" thing in the show's 14th season, winning the mirror ball trophy after he and his partner were buried near the bottom of the standings after the first night of the show. It was impossible to keep Donald Driver down, at least for long.

He was involved in many charitable efforts, including a summer celebrity softball game that raised money for his foundation. It was involved in granting scholarships and in many other worthwhile endeavors in the community.

And perhaps his best trait - loyalty - is one sorely lacking in most athletes today. Driver probably could have commanded big bucks on the free agent market, but chose to stay with the Green and Gold for his entire career.

"I played my entire career in Green Bay and have always enjoyed a special bond with the fans," said Driver in anticipation of Wednesday's retirement celebration. "I can think of no better way to retire than to celebrate with them and the Packers organization."

Age and the inevitable loss of the competitive edge have caught up with Driver. He forever will be remembered by the Packers organization and its fans as a great player, citizen and humanitarian. That is a rare combination in life, much less in athletics.

We wish him well in all his future endeavors.

- Sheboygan Press

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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.

Special Reports