Donald Driver Eclipses Milestone with Green Bay Packers
Donald Driver never cares who gets the ball when the quarterback drops back in the pocket and has always flown under the radar.
When the Houston native was drafted in the seventh round as the 213th overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, it most likely had many fans wondering just who this guy was from then NCAA Division I-AA Alcorn State.
How often does a seventh-round choice in the NFL in the past 15 years make an impact on that team, or any team for that matter?
Perhaps for Driver it was for the best that no one knew who he was in 1999, because people soon found out.
On Christmas Day 2011, Driver entered his game against the Chicago Bears just 21 receiving yards shy of 10,000 for his career. He caught two passes for 29 yards and currently sits at 10,008 yards with one game remaining in the season.
In doing so, Driver became the 36th player in NFL history to pass the 10K mark and the second in the season (Steve Smith accomplished the feat a few weeks earlier with the Carolina Panthers).
Also, he was just the 20th player to do so with one team—Smith is the only other active player on that list to date.
In his first three years in the league, Driver played 35 games for the Packers. He had 37 catches for 520 yards and three touchdowns. He spent those three years playing behind Antonio Freeman and home-state guy Bill Schroeder.
Is Donald Driver an NFL Hall of Fame receiver?
Driver's breakout year came in 2002, when he was pretty much the go-to guy for the Packers. He caught 70 passes for 1,064 yards—the first 1,000-yard season of his career—and nine touchdowns.
In the 2003 and 2004 seasons, Driver was the No. 2 receiver behind Javon Walker, but he had 11 touchdowns and over 1,800 yards during that time. In 2004, he had his second 1,000-yard season with 1,208 yards—it was be the first of six consecutive years he would pass that mark.
Driver was once again the No. 1 guy from 2005 to '07, amassing over 3,500 yards and 15 touchdowns. From '04 to '07, Driver also had at least 82 catches each year, with a career-high 92 catches in 2006.
In 2006, the Packers drafted a wide receiver—Greg Jennings—in the third round out of Western Michigan University to give Driver some help down the field.
It wasn't until 2008 that Jennings overtook Driver for the No. 1 spot on the depth chart, but Driver still managed two 1,000-yard seasons in 2008 and 2009. Driver also had 11 touchdowns in those two years.
In 2010, Driver, who was 35 years old that season, still found himself as the guy behind Jennings, but now had two more receivers climbing the depth chart in Jordy Nelson (Kansas State) and James Jones (San Jose State).
Driver still caught 51 passes for 565 yards and four touchdowns and accomplished what every NFL player dreams of: he won a Super Bowl, although he had to watch most of the game from the sideline as he was injured during the game.
Driver still has one game left in the 2011 regular season—against the Detroit Lions—and has no thoughts of retiring once the Packers are done playing this season, making it possible for him to move up from his 36th rank all-time in receiving yards.
Packers fans no doubt are pleased with all that Driver has done on the field, but it's what he does off the field that truly makes him a Packers legend.
Driver—or Double D, as he is known to fans—is very active with the Green Bay community and around the state, making many charitable appearances.
With his wife, Driver began the Donald Driver Foundation, which helps sick children and their families pay their insurmountable hospital bills, provides housing for the homeless and donates to several other charities.
Driver also works with the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and Goodwill Industries and was awarded the 2001 Community Service Award by the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce. He also received the 2002 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, the only NFL award that recognizes off-field services by a current player.
More recently, Driver has added "author" to his titles as well, releasing three children's books, with the main character called "Quickie." The stories are based on bedtime stories he told to his own children.
No matter where he goes or what he does, Driver always has a huge, bright smile on his face, and nothing can wipe it away.
Driver has accomplished many things over his 13-year NFL career and with this recent milestone, a question has begun to surface.
Is Driver Hall of Fame worthy?
I can see it going either way. Is 10,000 receiving yards the same as 3,000 hits or a .300 average in MLB?
It may be uncertain whether Driver will receive his bust and golden blazer or not, but one thing is certain:
Driver has put himself in the company with Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Don Hutson, Ray Nitschke and countless others as a Green Bay Packers legend.
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