There are many reasons Donald Driver is My Favorite Packer, and for the most part they have nothing to do with his bare chest, fuchsia pants, and the cha cha. Or a sexy blond partner named Peta Murgatroyd. Or a routine wearing green and gold cowboy outfits that, for the first time in history made cowboy dancing sexy (though that probably had something to do with Ms. Murgatroyd).
Yes, Driver just won Dancing with the Stars, and it’s a safe bet that before this season, most of the show’s gazillions of fans had never heard of him. But he’s been My Favorite Packer for ten years now, for all kinds of reasons. Donald Driver, I love thee. Let me count the ways:
- Thou hast been with the Packers for your entire career, since you were drafted in 1999 out of Alcorn State. You are our all-time leading receiver in catches and yardage.
- Thou runnest fearless routes across the middle of the field in that terrifying space where linebackers that outweigh you by forty pounds have license to smash you like a hammer. But you catch the ball and then you dance—without Ms. Murgatroyd–and fight for more yards.
- Thou art 37, the oldest receiver on a team with the best receiving corps in the league. You are playing a young man’s game, especially at wide receiver. But you work your ass off in the off-season, train hard, and keep coming back.
- Thou came up on the streets of Houston—literally. You and your five siblings sometimes slept in the back of a car. After you made it to the Packers in 1999, you and your wife set up the Donald Driver Foundation based out of Houston. You help homeless families and give scholarships to students in Mississippi, Texas, and Wisconsin. You run the annual Packers Offense vs. Defense charity softball game.
- Thou masterfully pen children’s books with titles like Quickie Handles a Loss, Quickie Makes the Team, and Quickie Goes to the Big Game. (Quickie was your incredibly adorable nickname as a kid.) They are based on bedtime stories you tell your kids.
- Thou art old, fearless, tireless, and with great attitude—a winner. There’s a very real chance the Packers won’t bring you back next season—they are deep at wide receiver, with a lot of young talent–but this would be a big mistake. In the January 2012 playoff game, when the New York Giants beat us like a drum, every receiver had the dropsies—everyone but you. You caught every ball thrown your way. I remember watching you on the sidelines talking to the other players. You had a look on his face that said, “Guys, if I have to do this by myself, I will.”
Here’s hoping Packers GM Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy bring Driver back for one more season, where he can dance where it counts—on the frozen tundra.