Former Green Bay Packers receiver Donald Driver holds his 17-month-old daughter, Charity, while he takes questions from media during Driver's retirement ceremony Wednesday at Lambeau Field. / Lukas Keapproth/Press-Gazette Media
Green Bay Packers fans can expect to see plenty of Donald Driver even though he officially ended his 14-year career with the team.
Just donít expect him to be on the sideline as an assistant coach.
ďThey spend too many hours at the building,Ē Driver joked during the Q&A session that ended his hourlong retirement ceremony Wednesday at the Lambeau Field Atrium.
Driverís post-football career officially started with the teamís first public retirement ceremony. Among the attendees for the sendoff were the 1,000 fans who last week snapped up the limited available tickets; Gov. Scott Walker and Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt; a handful of Packers teammates and dignitaries; a large group of Driverís family and friends; and media from around the state.
Most of the ceremony was dedicated to Driverís rise from a little-known seventh-round draft pick in 1999 to the teamís all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards, and status as one of the most popular players in recent team history.
The event featured personal tributes from host Larry McCarren, the former Packers center; team President and CEO Mark Murphy; general manager Ted Thompson; and coach Mike McCarthy. That was followed by a video recounting the highlights of Driverís career.
Then during the 10-minute press conference that closed the proceedings, Driver also touched on his future. He appears to be pursuing a career in television and said heíll co-host an episode of Katie Couricís talk show in the next week and participate in an upcoming episode of ďExtreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.Ē
Heís also working on a book about his life that is scheduled to come out later this year.
Still, Wednesday was mostly about Driverís long career and unusually strong connection with Packers fans.
In the news conference, he was asked about playing his entire career with two elite NFL quarterbacks, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Driver said Favre helped imbue in him the toughness to make it as a receiver who did most of his work in the middle of the field, where he was subject to hellacious hits.
ďHe instilled in me that donít ever let anyone know that youíre hurt,Ē Driver said. ďEvery time Iíd get knocked out across the middle, Iíd get up and smile. Even though I was hurt, Iíd just show that beautiful smile and then get back to the huddle, and I didnít know whatís going on, but I knew it was a run play. He instilled in me the toughness of this game.Ē
Driver said that playing with Rodgers later in his career helped remind him of his humble beginnings and love for the game.
ďOne thing I continue to learn from Aaron is you can continue to believe,Ē Driver said. ďPeople are going to doubt you, but if you continue to believe, you could be anything, youíre going to be that and thatís what he did.Ē
Driverís permanent home is in the Dallas area, but heíll be a regular visitor to Wisconsin. Aside from any work he does in television and other media, heíll likely be an ambassador for the Packers, both officially and in a promising career as a speaker for corporations and at events around the state.
ďI think all of us in this room would say itís been a blessing having him here,Ē Thompson said, ďand heís been a great addition to the Green Bay Packers, and we were very lucky to have him.Ē
Said Driver: ďThis is an opportunity to walk away from the game knowing that Iíve given it all that I can.Ē
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