After 14 seasons in the National Football League, Donald Driver has officially announced his retirement from the game, which officially makes me sad. The 38 year old Green Bay Packer wide receiver has made the decision to put his cleats on the shelf and move on to the next chapter in his life.
There are those who think that by the time training camp rolls around, Driver will begin to feel the itch to continue to play, especially since he still feels as though he is capable of playing at a high level, which he informed Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic on their ESPN radio show Jan. 31.
In fact, Packer fans have seen this happen before with Brett Favre, who took us on a roller coaster ride with his retirements, comebacks and controversies, which many agree have somewhat tarnished his legacy.
This indecision is not uncommon on behalf of retiring athletes. Their innate desire to compete compels them to try to prolong their careers until they physically cannot play, oftentimes appearing washed up in their attempt to prove their ability to themselves or others.
However, I do not believe this will be the case for Driver. I think that he will leave the game the same way that he played it: with dignity and a smile on his face, knowing that he had a remarkable career.
Donald Driver has an unlikely story of how he came to be an NFL player and now a Packer legend. His well-known past of overcoming the trials of his youth-which consisted of stealing cars, selling drugs and sleeping in U-Hauls-adds to the improbability of his accomplishments.
Now a family man, a community activist and even a Dancing With the Stars winner, it is Driver’s off the field actions as much as his exciting football talent that make him one of the most beloved Packers ever.
Chosen by the Packers in the seventh round of the 1999 NFL draft, not many would have guessed that this wiry wide-receiver from Alcorn State would retire in possession of the Green Bay Packer records for most receptions and most receiving yards in the organization’s history and third on the list for most touchdown receptions, not to mention an assured Packer Hall of Famer.
Yet this is the type of player that Donald Driver was-an extremely hard worker, a leader, an overwhelmingly positive influence and an unexpected legend. He simply achieved.
It is not very often that people get to live their dreams, especially if that dream is as narrow as being a professional football player. It is also not very often that someone living their dream is as successful at it as Donald Driver was. He certainly has the numbers to prove it, but more importantly he has the character, the class and the smile to complement his illustrious career and to solidify his place in the hearts of Cheeseheads everywhere.
Lastly, I’d like to point out that it was very odd having to refer to Donald Driver in the past tense as a former player throughout this article, and it might take a while to become accustomed to that. However, it is only as a football player that he “was” or “used to be.” He is presently and will continue to be an inspiration for myself and many others as an individual.