Don't Forget Donald: Why Donald Lee Isn't To Be Forgotten By Packer Fans

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2010

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 19:  Tight end Donald Lee #86 of the Green Bay Packers carries the ball against the Indianapolis Colts on October 19, 2008 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay Wisconsin. The Packers won 34-14.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

I may as well go ahead and say it, we all know that Jermichael Finley is a very good player.  In factm he's fantastic. 

He has a great set of hands, he is possibly the picture-perfect target for star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and given his youth, is set to go a very long distance in green and gold.

However, aside from all the hoopla that surrounds Finley at the present time, I can't help but feel that a mild Packer star has been neglected in the entire process. 

In case you haven't already discovered who I am talking about, or you simply didn't bother to read the headline, I'm talking about Donald Lee. 

The former starting tight end for the Green Bay Packers has seen his career take an impromptu turn for the worse in the span of 12 months.

When it came to Donald Lee, what you saw was just about what you got.  He was a very simple player, who had a knack for finding open patches on the field, and at the end of the day, became a very stable tight end in the Packers arsenal.

But now, I find myself writing about Donald Lee in the past tense, as if he has retired, or is sitting in the pool of never-to-sign free agents.

So why is it that most of the Packer Nation seem to have forgotten No. 86, and instead have chosen to focus on the oh-so-promising Green Bay Packer offense?

Well, aside from the obvious Jermichael Finley factor, much has contributed to Donald Lee's demise.

Firstly, some of the blame could be pinned on Aaron Rodgers.  It's by no means a fault, but given the fact that Rodgers has relied heavily at times on Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, Donald Lee's assistance wasn't always necessary on many passing plays.

Secondly, much of the blame could be placed on Donald Lee himself.  Looking over his stats, he was a fairly capable starting tight end, but had a tendency to go through good and bad seasons.

For example, during his 2007 season that saw Brett Favre lead the Packers to the NFC Championship Game, Donald Lee capped off the year with 575 yards. 

Unfortunately though, this was only to be replaced by a more dismal 2008 season that featured a much lower 303-yard posting.

But before we go and point the finger at one player or another, is it important for all NFL fans in general to realize that the Donald Lee era is far from over.

For you see, when it comes to the Green Bay Packers, they have a tendency to mix things up a lot, particularly in the passing game. 

You'd think that with two solid wide receivers such as Donald Driver and Greg Jennings on the roster, the need for much younger guys to fill in would stray a little in Lambeau Field.

However, in fact, head coach Mike McCarthy has taken the very opposite approach, and has kept a solid rotation flowing, that features just about every wide receiver on the active roster.

Therefore, this simple fact alone shows that we may see at least a glimpse or two of Donald Lee this season.

But as great as this all seems, the question must be asked, why would the Packers want to utilize Donald Lee if they already have Jermichael Finley?

Well, it is quite arguable, but given the fact that Finley is only young, and Lee does have some experience at the tight end position, the coaching strategy may be to use Lee in more risky situations.

Now, don't get me wrong, the Packers will look to build Finley's confidence immensely this season.

However, if a quick slant pass is needed on a fourth down, perhaps Lee may be slotted in somehow to get the job done.

When it comes right down to it, unfortunately for any Lee fan like myself out there in Packer Nation, we probably won't see ol' No. 86 in action like we once did.

To quote Boomer off of NFL Blitz, "Nobody doesn't like Donald Lee," so lets just hope that this once reliable player still gets to see the green field on any given occasion. 

Bring on the Jermichael Finley era, but let's not forget all that Donald Lee has done for the Green Bay Packers.  He played a hand in a near-Super Bowl season in 2007, and has had numerous great moments with Aaron Rodgers.

I won't ask you to stand up and applaud or salute some kind of Donald Lee shrine, let's just appreciate.  Donald Lee has contributed to the Packers we know and love today, and maybe, just maybe, he will continue to in the future.


Ryan Cook is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report . He is also an NFL columnist for Real Sports Net and a Green Bay Packers writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters . Ryan is also a contributing writer for Detroit Lions Talk .  Don't forget to follow him on Twitter .