Packers WR Donald Driver calls it a career
Donald Driver found a way to retire in style.
On Wednesday, the popular Green Bay Packers wide receiver
celebrated his 14-year career during an event at Lambeau Field with
family, friends, a handful of teammates and 1,500 fans who filled
the atrium and lined balconies to get a glimpse of him.
”I told myself I wasn’t going to cry today, so I’m going to
hold the emotion back as much as possible. I love you all so
much,” said Driver, who retired after catching 743 passes for
10,137 yards after making the team as a seventh-round draft pick
out of Alcorn State in 1999.
”It was a tough decision, but my family and I felt it was time
for the next chapter in our life.”
Driver praised the fans who stood in line in subzero
temperatures last week for a chance to get tickets to the event,
which drew more than 10,000 viewers to the Packers.com online
stream and was also carried live on television stations across the
Team president Mark Murphy said it was the first time in
franchise history that a player had held a public retirement news
If there is another, that player will have a hard time topping
Driver, who is the franchise’s all-time leading receiver.
”To the fans, I want to thank you all for the love, the joy,
the cheers, the ups and though we haven’t given you too many
downs,” Driver said. ”This day is not just for me, this day is
”Twelve years ago, I signed my first big contract for the Green
Bay Packers and I promised you all that I would never wear another
uniform. So today, we make that official. I keep my promise to you.
The loyalty you all have instilled in me and my family, I have to
keep my loyalty to you and not play for another team and to retire
in the green and gold.”
He said Wednesday that he’ll be guest-hosting Katie Couric’s
talk show and appearing on ABC’s ”Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss
Edition with Chris Powell”, among other off-the-field
Governor Scott Walker announced Wednesday was ”Donald Driver
Day” in the state of Wisconsin, and Mayor Jim Schmitt announced
that a downtown Green Bay street will be renamed ”Donald Driver
Way.” In addition, the statue, ”The Receiver,” will be repainted
to represent Driver, replacing the generic player wearing No. 88 it
”I was the same guy who walked in 1999 and I’m the same guy who
walks out in 2013,” Driver said. ”Sometimes people say that
sometimes success changes who you are – success has not changed me.
I’m the same skinny little kid who walked in 1999. I’ll be the same
skinny kid – well, grown man – who walked out in 2013. Nothing
changes for me. I’m the same person and never will change.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Driver’s 61-yard touchdown
against the San Francisco 49ers during the 2010 season embodied the
player he was. Driver caught the ball at the San Francisco 39-yard
line and broke several tackles en route to the end zone.
”My picture of Donald, the memory I’ll have is the touchdown
against the 49ers – with the throwback jersey and (where he) breaks
Lord knows how many tackles,” McCarthy said. ”If you’re looking
for a picture of what Donald Driver means to your football team,
what he means as a player, that’s the picture. That’s the one I’ll
Driver finished his career as one of the most popular players in
franchise history, alongside Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr,
who was among those who appeared in a video tribute to Driver.
”When I walked in here in 1999, I felt like I could do anything
if I believed that anything was possible,” Driver said. ”All the
great guys who played before me, it was truly an honor to stand up
there and play with those guys. I had the work ethic and I wasn’t
going to let it slip away. Look at me now, I’m the all-time
Packers’ receiver in history.”
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