Donald Driver Green Bay PackersBy: Karl Benacci (buyinggameused)

When the Green Bay Packers drafted a little-known wide receiver from Alcorn State in the seventh round of the 1999 NFL draft, they didn’t know what they were getting…

Born February 2, 1975, in Houston, Texas, Donald Driver was introduced to a life of poverty at an early age. After the family lost their possessions to a collection agency and his father to the prison system, Donald’s teenage years were marked with incidents of mere survival—stealing cars and selling them to chop blocks, dealing drugs, and living in the back of a U-Haul truck with his mother and four siblings when his mother wasn’t lucky enough to purchase a hotel room using the family’s food stamps.

Donald claims his life changed one day, while attempting to steal a car. The police were pursuing him, and as Driver recollects, “I turned the corner and a lady was backing out of her driveway. Me going at the speed that I was, I hit the car so hard that it just smashed it. I jumped out of the car. I must have had the police beat by a block or so. I took off running but something stopped me, to come back, to make sure the lady was OK. It was an older lady. She said she was OK, and I wanted to run after that. But the lady told me, ‘Go behind and sit on my porch.’ So I trusted her, I went and sat on the porch. When the cops came, they were searching for me and I was sitting on the porch like nothing was wrong. I guess she told the police (the driver) took off, running down the road. She told them, ‘My grandson is sitting on the back porch. “The police said, ‘He’s OK.’ Then she said, ‘Get in this house.’ She made me realize, ‘You don’t have to do all these things. You’re young.’”

Even after this incident, Driver still sold drugs, for his family needed the money. Donald’s life turned around however, when a good friend robbed him of his drugs and money at gunpoint. It was a wake-up call. Shortly after, at the age of fourteen, the family decided to send Donald to live with his grandmother, hoping he would receive a solid church upbringing and good education. While attending Houston’s Milby High School, Donald shined in football, though he also played baseball, basketball, and participated in track and field.

DOnald Driver Alcorn State AthleteHe received an athletic scholarship to attend Alcorn State, where he majored in Accounting. Aside from playing football, Donald was a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity—the first Greek organization created for African Americans. He also excelled on the track and field team—his seven-foot, six-inch jump would have qualified him for the 2000 Sidney Olympics. So good was Donald, that he received the conferences ‘Athlete of the Year Award’ three years in a row.

Driver left Alcorn State with 88 receptions for 1,933 yards and 17 touchdowns. Drafted 213th overall, he entered the Packers training camp in 1999 as a special teams player.

Donald’s well-known for his toughness, athleticism, leadership and intelligence. These attributes make him an excellent, consistent receiver that can be trusted.

Perhaps ex-Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Sherman stated it best when he said of Driver, “Here’s a guy that’s gone through a lot, but he’s always worked hard. From the first day I met him (in 2000), you could see in his eyes that he was going to do whatever it took to be a great player. It doesn’t surprise me, the success that he’s having, because this guy’s given so much and put in so much time. He deserves the success he’s had. It’s an amazing story.”

Donald Driver StandsDriver is known for a variety of memorable plays, his most famous being the December 16, 2007 recipient of Brett Favre’s record-breaking all-time passing mark of 61,361 career yards.

In fact, life keeps getting better for Driver. He’s gone to the Pro Bowl the past two years, and off the field, has a loving family.
Driver is the best in his sport, not necessarily by what he’s done on the field, but off—he’s argubably the best, most amazing  man playing in the NFL today. Sure, his forty-plus career touchdown receptions, the fact five of the six past seasons have resulted in one thousand or more reception yards per year, and recent Pro Bowl appearances illustrate Donald’s no slouch, but what makes him the best is what he’s become. He didn’t let an upbringing of poverty keep him from being a success. He wanted to change the situation, learned from his mistakes, and worked hard, dedicating himself to the life he wanted.

And when Driver achieved his goals, he didn’t stop—he now gives to those who find themselves in troubled times, simular to his youth. Driver has a successful charity—the Donald Driver Foundation—which he and his wife, Betina—the charity director—created in 2001. The charity’s slogan: “Strong hands, Strong minds, Loving Hearts” does just that, helping women’s shelters and single mothers.

Driver never forgets where he came from, which is a great reason for his success. In fact, the woman owning the car Donald accidentally crashed into while fleeing the police—he calls her Grandma Johnson—and visits her whenever he returns to Houston.

Donald has said he wants to play until age forty, and perhaps after that. His athleticism, coupled with his toughness, makes this a feasible feat, and it’s almost certain he will remain a Packer for the rest of his career, primarily due to his non-decline in numbers, excellent work-ethic and leadership skills.

NFL wide receivers tend to be regarded as cocky male divas. But one must remember, Donald Driver didn’t enter the league as a receiver, rather a special teams player. And one thing’s for certain—he’ll leave the league as a Hall-of-Fame person.

Donald Driver’s Five Best Cards:

1. 2008 Leaf Limited “Material Monikers” Jersey/Auto

2. 2008 Leaf Limited Authentic “Game Worn Quad” (also features swatches of Rodgers, Jennings and Grant)

3. 2008 Playoff Absolute Memorabilia “Team Trios” (also features swatches of Jennings and Grant)

4. 1999 Fleer Focus Rookie

1999 Fleer Focus Donald Driver Rookie Card

5. 1999 Skybox Dominion Rookie

Best Value: The 1999 Fleer Focus is, in my opinion, the best value, for it’s only numbered out of 3850 and can be purchased for around one dollar. As Driver plays for another half-decade (he claims he wants to play until he’s at least forty), his stats will grow, as will his mystique as one of the favorite receivers of Brett Favre, and now Aaron Rodgers.