On Dec. 5, I took my wife to her first Packers game. To be honest, though, she isn’t a huge Packers fan, and like many other wives, would probably rather watch Paula Deen whip up green bean casserole. At the same time, she does have one favorite Packers player – Donald Driver, whom on this particular Sunday provided about as many fireworks as a July 4 celebration.
With the score 14-13 Packers early in the third quarter, Driver caught a 20-plus-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers, almost flipped a 49ers defender, broke about half-dozen arm tackles, and rumbled for a 61-yard touchdown. Along with my wife’s heart, Lambeau Field went crazy, and Driver’s gallop was the momentum the Packers needed to put the dagger into the 49ers.
It was probably the most amazing catch and run I’ve ever seen, and it was the kind of play that defined the type of player Driver has been throughout his career. After all, putting it all on the line every down is the only way Driver knows how to play.
Now entertain this next question for at least 80 seconds. What if Donald Driver became the next Packers wide receivers coach?
It sounds perfect, right? Maybe, almost too perfect?
There’s one small problem though --- Donald’s not retiring. At least that’s what he claimed in the final locker room media session on Feb 8.
“I’m not retiring. I just signed a two-year extension. The Packers want me here. I’m not going anywhere. You know, I feel like I can still play. I’ve proven that.”
But what if someday he were offered a spot on the coaching staff as a wide receivers coach? Would he be well-received and successful? Could he do it part-time while still playing? And would he have the same kind of impact coaching as he had playing?
Yes, yes, and yes.
About a week ago, I was researching Cris Carter for a possible story, and it brought to life a video I ran across. It was a video that depicted Carter talking to the 2008 rookie class of wide receivers about how they should manage their careers along with the mind-set they should have if and when they further their NFL potential. But as I watched this No. 80 pace back and forth using a page from the Dennis Green book of speaking, I heard echoes of Driver.
“When I step on to that field, every catch is for my family. … It makes me appreciate my two kids and my wife, because without them and God, I couldn’t survive.”
Character and motivation. These are two words that are often overshadowed for words like speed and strength these days by NFL general managers. The funny thing is that I believe character and motivation are the two words that define the Super Bowl winning Green Bay Packers, with Driver leading the charge.
Let’s face it, Driver wasn’t a first- or second-round pick, and never really had game-changing speed or strength. He came from a family of nothing, material-wise, but has had the will and drive to be successful on and off the field. In other words, Driver is a winner, role model and someone who could get the best out of those he teaches. He also knows the ins and outs of offensive schemes and what to look for in opposing defenses, has vast knowledge of how to run great routes, and understands how to become a complete wide receiver.
Most importantly, though, Driver has looked adversity straight in the eye, and has beaten it. He is an inspiration to everyone including fans of the game, and his presence alone walking the sideline as "coach" would remind the pass catchers of what they can become if they're willing to work hard just like No 80.
Green Bay Packers legend Vince Lombardi said it best when he proclaimed, “The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.”
Think about that for at least 80 seconds.
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Eric Huber is a contributing writer for OnMilwaukee.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org