Driver One to Root For

When Donald Driver broke Sterling Sharpe’s Packer record for career receptions yesterday and became the most prolific pass-catcher in the history of the 90-year-old franchise, it marked the pinnacle of the under-appreciated career for one of the sport’s good guys.

Driver was a little-known, little-used 7th round draft pick coming off a forgettable rookie year in April of 2000 when he visited the Sister Bay Bowl to appear at a youth sports banquet. I was in my first year running Husby’s in Sister Bay at the time, but was in Milwaukee at a food show that night. I called in to check on the restaurant (which was a catastrophe, but that’s a longer story for another blog) and my mom told me there was somebody who wanted to speak to me.

“Hi Myles, this is Donald Driver,” he boomed into the phone. I was stunned (I knew who he was, since I’ve always loved any Packer who wore number 80 – James Lofton was my first favorite player).

He didn’t have to, but after the banquet Driver had accompanied a bunch of the kids across the street to Husby’s, where he played pool and video games with them through the evening. I didn’t expect it, but he spent the next five minutes talking about the upcoming season, the new coach (Mike Sherman had recently been hired), bowling, and his night in Sister Bay. After I let him go he posed for photos with my parents and the kids (he was in no rush, I probably could have talked to him another 15 minutes but was too surprised to say anything intelligent), and I forgot my restaurant was a disaster.

Driver comes from a humble, checkered background, and has overcome setbacks to become a stellar role model, and he is involved in numerous community programs. But before he was a star, and long before he had a platform, he showed me and a bunch of Sister Bay kids what he was all about with a few hours of his time almost ten years ago.