There is a rumor that the “G” on the Packers helmet stands for Greatness. It’s not actually true, thank you Tiki Barber, but that doesn’t really bother me. It’s a good concept.
Today, one of the Packer greats announced his retirement. Donald Driver is retiring after 14 greatness-infused seasons.
I’ve been a Packers fan since birth and, yes, I get emotionally attached to some players. Driver is one of them. I’ve never seen a player with such a quiet passion for the game and obvious joy on the playing field. He’s not a flashy player; he doesn’t say much. No hidden Sharpie in his sock. No hidden cell phone in the end zone. A Lambeau Leap and a mega-watt smile were celebration enough. Even in his later years he never complained publicly about not getting the ball enough. The Facebook movement “Activate Donald Driver” was a page started and promoted by fans who were disappointed he was inactive for the playoff game against the Vikings. Whether or not the Facebook page was influential in getting him activated for the next playoff game against the Niners, which would turn out to be his last game, we may never know. He acknowledged the movement, but never complained and seemed happy to help the team in whatever way he could, even if he wasn’t in uniform.
But that smile might be what I remember most. It doesn’t matter if it was a touchdown or a big hit that made us all gasp. The smile was always there. I’ve never met him, but I’m sure it could light up a room. It was the sign of a player who really enjoyed what he was doing. Even though I voted for him every week on Dancing With The Stars, I’m certain he wasn’t the best dancer out there. But he’s got a huge fan base. He’s a guy with a great personality, love of life, and appreciation.
So much is his appreciation for his fans, that he has chosen to formally announce his retirement on Feb 6 with an event at the Lambeau Field Atrium for the fans. I wish I could be there. If I could meet him, I would thank him for the kind of player he has been, which seems to be more and more rare. I hope he continues to be involved with the Packers; we would all miss him if he disappeared entirely. But I really don’t think he’ll abandon the football world.
Even if G doesn’t really stand for Greatness, I think in this case it did. We will miss you #80.
- Packers: Donald Driver to announce retirement Wednesday (host.madison.com)
- Packers’ Driver says he’s retiring after 14 seasons (cbssports.com)
- Packers’ Driver to retire after 14 NFL seasons (espn.go.com)