Packers XLV

Next Up for Driver: A Lambeau Leap into Packers Hall of Fame

Posted January 31st, 2013 @ 10:01pm

He won't go down as the best Packers wide receiver ever, but Donald Driver retires as the most prolific, productive and beloved receiver in Green Bay Packers history.

For many, he's a walking symbol of Green Bay Packers football. The ultimate underdog in a very competitive world. When he was drafted in the seventh round out of Alcorn State, he was given uniform #13, probably representing his place on the depth chart among receivers in camp. He toiled in relative obscurity for three seasons before finally getting his chance. Once he got it, he didn't relinquish it until he was ready to--now, 14 years later.

Don Hutson, a member of the NFL 75th anniversary team, a guy whose record 99 TDs for a receiver stood for 44 years after he retired, will likely always be the Pack's greatest receiver ever. James Lofton had a Hall of Fame career in Green Bay and Oakland and was a fluid, gifted receiver on a lot of bad and mediocre teams. Sterling Sharpe was on his way to a Hall of Fame career before a neck injury caused him to retire in his prime.

But Driver, who famously spent part of his childhood in poverty, homeless for a time and living in a U-Haul trailer. Yet he survived and became a role model for millions. We'll always remember him for his toughness, work ethic, personality and that smile.

He added millions of new fans who care very little about the NFL (like my wife) when he competed on "Dancing with the Stars." Here he showed that he wasn't afraid to be the amateur member of a team, wasn't afraid to make mistakes under a nationally televised audience, wasn't afraid to show a different side of himself. That he won surprises few Packer fans who know that the ultimate underdog worked for everything he got--pretty much from the time he was born.

He leaves the NFL on his terms, which is how it should be. And now when he announces his retirement publicly, in front of hundreds of fans at Lambeau Field, he will be treated like the historic Packer that he is and receive the proper send-off.

Lofton wore #80 well. But Donald Driver wore it better. And no Packer should ever wear that number again.

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Comments (8):

Donald has always been such a class act. I personally would not have been offended if he had tried to play another year or two for some other team and then come back to sign a one-day contract with the packers to retire. Either way, he will go down as one of the packer greats. Thanks for all the memories, Donald.

on February 1st, 2013 at 04:20pm

Davy....You are correct....Lofton wore # 80 well but #80 should go up with the Driver name on it in the Packer Wall/Hall of fame. Yes he will be missed on the field but off the field he was a class act.....just think what Finley could be like if he had about 30% of Driver's attitude and work ethic. Personally...I think he was the best clutch receiver in Packer Super Bowl era history. Would be interesting to see a stat if he had the most 3rd down catches in Pack history. Hard to see character guys like Driver and Woodson go....I do not know who will step into that role on the current roster. But....Donald thank you for all the great memories !! GO PACK GO !!

on February 2nd, 2013 at 11:07am

hey guys, we all know 80 was a class act. and I sure was glad he retired and didn't go play for the vikes. but, davey, how can u not put on mr. freeman on your poll?I think he is in to 6 all time. him and jennings are real close, but he played injured with a broken arm and made some great catches, monday nite against the vikes, HE DID WHAT? plus 80 yarder in super bowl win.has to be there over someone , dowler or max even, come on ravens 34-24

on February 2nd, 2013 at 11:38pm

OSSG, you're absolutely right! How 'bout one for us old guys?!? Let's hear it for Dave Robinson #89, the 22nd Packer enshrined in Canton. Back in those days, my favorite Packer on defense was Herb Adderly, and I think it was probably for the "flash" factor he possesed...after all, he intercepted passes and returned stuff for a 9 year old at the time. But what I'll always remember about Dave Robinson was his involvement in the 1966 NFL Championship game against the Cowboys at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, in one of the greatest goal line stands I've ever seen. On the famous 4th down play with Don Meridith rolling out to his right, Robinson broke away from his assignment to chase him down (which we later learned got Lombardi just a little irritated), but it was the difference in causing Meridith to make the throw across his body (sound familiar?) into the hands of safety Tom Brown to seal the win, and send the Pachers to Super Bowl I. Stop and think about this for a moment...if the Cowboys scored on that play and went on to the Super Bowl, the trophy today could very well be called the Tom Landry trophy. So Dave Robinson had a huge part in NFL history for just that one play. Now all we need is to get Jerry Kramer's rightful place in Canton, and the Lombardi legacy will be complete.

on February 5th, 2013 at 05:34pm

Davy....I am surprised that you did not hve a note on Dave Robinson...old #89....on making the Hall of Fame. For us old timers....come on Voice,PACKERLIFER, and others you remember this guy. He was Lawrence Taylor before Lawrence Taylor.....the first of a breed of athletic big linebackers who could cover pass receivers. Yes....a linebaker who could actually cover a receiver....something the Pack is sorely missing now. When Robinson was playing on the left side, Hall of Fame tight ends John Mackey and Mike Ditka did almost nothing against the Packers. In eight games against them from 1965-’69, at the height of his career, Mackey caught 23 passes for 209 yards. That’s an average of 2.9 catches and 26 yards per game. In six games between 1965 and ‘72, Ditka caught a total of 9 passes for 86 yards, an average of 1.5 per game and 14 yards During his eight years as a Packer ....he played on 3 NFL Championship teams and 3 other playoff teams in an era of less playoff teams. Their defense was always top 5 in the league. Here is my greatest memory of him: On Dec. 12, 1965, the Packers trailed the Baltimore Colts by a half-game with two to go in the regular-season. Lose and the Packers would have been eliminated from the postseason back when only the two conference champions qualified. With less than a minute to play in the first half, the Colts had the ball at the Packers’ 2-yard line with a chance to take a 20-14 halftime lead. But Robinson leaped high in the air to intercept a second-down pass and returned it 87 yards to the Colts’ 10. The Packers scored a touchdown on the next play, turning the tide back in their favor and rolled to a 42-27 victory. “It was a 14-point play and the turning point,” Lombardi said at the time. The Packers wound up tying the Colts for the conference title and then beat them again in a playoff before scoring a convincing victory over Cleveland for the NFL championship Boy....could the 2013 Packers use someone like this !! GO PACK GO !!

on February 5th, 2013 at 12:39pm

Wow, how do you define the career of a guy like Donald Driver? You truly can't make up a story like his - saying that he's one of a kind seems so inadequate. He didn't have the flash of TO (thank God), the attitude of CC (ditto), or the ego of either "84" or "85" (need I say more?), but boy did he get it done. A class act all the way. For sure the Packer HOF, but it's hard to say if he'll get to Canton. Good luck Donald - no doubt, you'll be successful in whatever you decide to do from here on out. Congratulations!

on January 31st, 2013 at 07:12pm

Packers Game Day Regret: About 11 years ago I won a Game Day Donald Driver Jersey at a bar drawing...I went to a Packers Game and traded it for a Farve road jersey. I'm sure that guy still has a smile on his face.

on January 31st, 2013 at 09:17pm

Wow. I meant Favre. How soon we forget. I'm gonna say my iPad made the mistake.

on January 31st, 2013 at 09:20pm

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