I propose a toast.
It’s time to raise our glasses and salute not only one of the greatest players in Green Bay Packers history but also one of the most beloved. A man who is “Packer People” personified from the way carries himself both on and off the field and his various charitable endeavors. A man who came from literally nothing and who beat the odds and made it on the NFL’s biggest stage despite being the Packers’ final selection in the 1999 NFL Draft. A man who not only made it in the NFL, but rewrote the record books for one of the most storied franchises in league history.
Donald Driver, stand up and take a bow.
Parts of this column may sound like I am writing a farewell column despite the fact Driver hasn’t retired yet and in fact is coming back for his 13th NFL season. I guess I’m guilty as charged, but I argue that it’s never too early to pay tribute to man of such importance to a franchise and its fan base as Driver.
Driver’s path to the NFL was an odyssey that would have even made Homer’s jaw drop. One of five children, Driver spent a decent amount of time in his teens living out of a U-Haul truck and sometimes spending holidays without either of his parents. Even at that age, Driver’s athletic gifts were apparent. Given the nickname “Quickie” by his mother because of how fast he was when she would chase him around the house, Driver continued to mold his body and stay in shape.
His father was a quarterback at Texas A&M who won an athletic scholarship and could have played in the NFL, but gave it up to support his mother after his father (Donald’s grandfather) passed away. It was a very large sacrifice to give up his dream to help his family and it’s a lesson Driver never soon forgot.
As he grew up it would seem Driver was determined to live his father’s dream and make it in the NFL. He scratched and clawed his way to Alcorn State where he became a world class high jumper (he could have made the 2000 Sydney Olympics but lucky for Cheeseheads he didn’t) and was selected in the 7th round of the 1999 NFL draft by the Packers.