Time, Space and Donald Driver


Donald Driver looks toward his future away from football.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Being a fan of the Green Bay Packers means more than rooting for your team.

It represents a deep connection to all things Green and Gold. It is about the relationships that we build with the men who battle on the frozen tundra every Sunday (and Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, too). One of our favorites has decided to call it a career.  Donald Driver, arguably, one of the greatest wide receivers to play for the Packers is doing something very few players ever do, finish with the team with which they began.

Twenty-fours hours after the initial announcement, many fans are on an emotional roller coaster – happy for the man, yet sad to see it end.  But as with anything in life there comes a time when all things end.  I have spent as much time as possible reading everything that I have seen about Donald Driver and there is no way for me to be impartial in my thoughts or words when I think back about what he has given Packers Nation and what we feel for him.

Vince would have had great things to say about Donald Driver.

So I decided that it would be better to find out what others have to say about Donald Driver retiring.  So I hooked up the  old Texas Instrument computer and routed it through my flux capacitor, via the 1967 olive green electric mixer I got at a yard sale and was able to reopen the worm hole in my basement.  I figured it was time to see what others have to say about Donald Driver.

My first stop was the office of one Vincent Thomas Lombardi.  I asked the Coach what he thought of Donald retiring and the career that he had.  Lombardi replied, “Teamwork is what Donald Driver was all about.  He did not play the game for individual glory.  He did it because he loved his team and his community.”

I then asked Coach Lombardi if he could give any advice  to Donald what would it be.  Coach then took a deep breath and looked across at his chalkboard littered with X’s and O’s and answered, “After the cheers have died down and the stadium is empty, after the headlines have been written and after you are back in the quiet of your room and the championship ring has been placed on the dresser and all the pomp and fanfare have faded, the enduring things that are left are the dedication to excellence, the dedication to victory, and the dedication to doing with our lives the very best we can to make the world a better place in which to live.  It is these things that I see Donald succeeding at.”

After thanking Coach Lombardi for his time, I decided that it would be interesting to get a more worldly view on our favorite receiver so I zapped over to the Shandong peninsula in northeastern China to speak with Master Kongfuzi (Confucius).

What would Confucius have said about Donald Driver?

I asked the Master what he thought about Donald Driver and he said, “A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.”  But was the time right for Driver to retire was a question that many people were wondering and I implored him for his wisdom.  Confucius said, “If you look into your own heart, and you find nothing wrong there, what is there to worry about? What is there to fear?”

Finally, the Great Master imparted these final thoughts about what waited for Donald, “The superior man cannot be known in little matters, but he may be entrusted with great concerns.”

So it was evident that two of the greatest minds, Lombardi and Confucius saw great things for Donald as he moves forward in his post-football career. But I needed  another perspective, one more in step with Donald the Dancer.  So I located the great Fred Astaire.

I asked him what he thought of Donald’s dancing and what the future might hold for him and he replied, “He was just simply wonderful, the way he danced on the field and off it.  He danced beautifully, learned beautifully.  He was very adept at whatever he did on the dance floor, really in fine form.  I would love to do a picture with him.”

No doubt, President Barack Obama would have to bring in a reference to the Chicago Bears when complimenting Donald Driver.

So I felt pretty good that those of the past saw Donald in the same light we saw him in but what about some of our contemporaries, what did they think about Donald retiring.  So I touched base with the Commander in Chief, President Obama.  I asked him what his feelings were about Donald ending his career and he said, “I’m just gonna come out and say it,” this hurts a little bit. This is a hard thing for a Bears fan to do. It doesn’t hurt as much as the NFC championship game hurt, but it still hurts to say I am going to miss that man, his play on the field and his dancing off of it.

Wanting to be partisan, I then sought out Rush Limbaugh for his thoughts and he had this to say about Donald, “Wouldn’t it be great if our country had standards as high as Donald Driver’s?” So it was obvious that Rush felt the love we all feel for Donald.

So I finished up my jaunt across time and space and returned home.  It was evident that Donald Driver is  more than a football player.  He is one of those rare types who transcends those boundaries that separate us as individuals.  He has worked for the greater good of the community and he has elevated those around him.

Really nothing more can be said about the man that has not already been written, except that when it came time to call it a career, he did not think about himself or his team.  Rather, he thought of the people that supported him and loved him and wanted to do it right for them.  He thought of us, the fans and for that we can only say, “Thank you.  Thank you for being Donald Driver, football player, dancer and our friend.”