Green Bay Packers Retire Donald Driver in Grand Style
Anyone who saw them—and a crowd of fans—bid Donald Driver farewell can attest to that.
Everyone from coach Mike McCarthy to Ted Thompson to both Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt showed up to take part.
Of course, the highlight of the day was Driver himself, and "Double D" didn't fail to impress, ending his career as a Packer the same way he conducted it every year—with class.
Driver, who had a hard time keeping his emotions in check, thanked many past Packers greats, including Brett Favre, his current teammates and all the people within the organization who believed in a guy everyone described as skinny during the speeches on Wednesday.
He specifically—and touchingly—thanked former running back and current Packers scout Alonzo Highsmith with getting his tape in front of the Green Bay front office.
Most of all, Driver seemed moved by the fan support—both those who showed up for the ceremony, whom he called crazy and loyal, as well as those who supported him and his teammates during his career.
He even spent time talking to fans and signing autographs after the event.
Driver talking, shaking hands with the fans.... twitter.com/TyDunne/status…— Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) February 6, 2013
It's that bond between Cheeseheads and their team which really struck me while watching the event online at Packers.com. To Driver, it was clear that he had found a home in Green Bay and felt the support of his fans through thick and thin.
And while he may have moved on (he has a house in Texas, where he says his wife has told him his first post-football job is to get the squirrels out of the attic), he will always have a special place in his heart for Green Bay.
As with any athlete, we don't know Driver. We don't know who he really is, or what he really is about. However, as he has on so many occasions prior, Driver appeared genuine and humble in the face of the adulation he saw in the fans and team he loves.
It's the sort of sensation you get watching him which makes you feel that when he says that his promise to never wear a jersey other than a Packers jersey was a factor in his decision to hang his cleats up, you believe it.
I believe it when he said:
I want to thank you all for the love, the joy, the tears. The ups--I know we haven't given you too many downs. This day is not just for me, this day is for you. Twelve years ago, I signed my contract for the Green Bay Packers. I promised you all I would never wear another uniform. So today, we make that official.
Driver was presented with the key to the city, and informed he would have a street named after him and a statue altered to his likeness and was genuinely moved.
Whether it's the statue, the street or the tremendous video the Packers put together in his honor, it was clear that Driver meant as much to Green Bay as Green Bay did to him.
Even if he has squirrels in his attic.
Driver: My wife said the first job in retirement will be to get the squirrels out of our attic at our home in Texas.— Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) February 6, 2013
When it all comes down to it, there is really only one way to react to Driver's career.
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