No other uniform would fit Donald Driver.
The Green Bay Packers all-time leading receiver announced his retirement, with a public ceremony planned for February 6 at the Lambeau Field Atrium.
”I’ve always expounded I never want to wear another uniform. I’ve always said that I owe it to the fans to retire as a Packer,” Driver said. ”I feel just like I can still play, but if I can’t play for my organization, then I cannot play for anybody else.”
Driver finishes his 14-year career as Green Bay’s best-ever leader in yards receiving (10,137 yards), catches (743) and 1,000-yard seasons (7), and is 3rd behind Don Hutson and Sterling Sharpe with 61 touchdown receptions. A 4-time Pro Bowler, he was Green Bay’s MVP in 2002 and was a part of the team that claimed the Super Bowl following the 2010 season.
Only Brett Favre played more games in a Green Bay Packers uniform.
”All 14 years, each day,” Driver said in an interview when questioned what his favorite memory is. ”That’s a special place to walk out of, and that is something I should never forget.”
Drafted by Green Bay in the 7th round of the 1999 draft, Driver became one of the hottest and prolific Packers. He had 6 straight 1,000-yard seasons from 2004-09, averaging 14 yards per catch during the stretch. He made at least one catch in 133 games in a row from 2002 to 2010, another franchise record.
He’s one of only 18 wide receivers in NFL history with 700-plus career catches and 10,000 or more receiving yards in 200 games.
Though Driver had announced he was hoping to play till he was 40 – he turns 38 last Saturday- his retirement was not exactly a surprise. He had restructured the final year of his agreement to come back this season, but played only a bit role in the offense with Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb in front of him on the depth chart. Driver’s 8 catches for 77 yards were his lowest totals since his rookie season, and he was inactive for 4 games, including the NFC wild-card, his final game at Lambeau Field. Baseball spreads
Though Coach Mike McCarthy did not say as much during their postseason meeting, Driver knew he wasn’t in the Packers plans for next season.
”I just kind of knew in his eyes,” Driver said. ”When you’ve known a man for so long and you’re friends, it’s hard for him to tell you that they’re not going to bring me back. I just kind of looked at him and I just kind of knew that that is what they were going to do.”
And that made his decision easy.
Minnesota reportedly had interest in Driver, and he revealed he suspects there would’ve been other teams that wanted him, too. But he wasn’t going to play for anyone besides the Green Bay Packers.
Driver also didn’t want to put the Packers in a difficult spot, having watched them go thru their messy divorce with Brett Favre.
”I just wanted to make it simple on the organization, not put any pressure on them,” Driver related. ”Just be in a position to walk away on my own terms and not have them say, ‘we’re not going to bring you back.”’