Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Donald Driver

Should Packers WR Donald Driver Start Against SF?

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Earlier this evening, as I often do on Mondays, I listened to sports-talk radio on WTMJ-AM 620 out of Milwaukee, WI.  The question posed by hosts Greg Matzek and Jeff Falconio (known as “the freak” and “the geek”) was this: Should Packers WR Donald Driver play against San Francisco?

And of course, as you might expect, Falconio and Matzek’s answer was that Driver should not play.  Driver’s stats this year do not look good, as he’s played very few downs. With only eight receptions for 77 yards and no touchdowns, Driver has not been the same cog in the Packers offense that he was for so many years since being drafted back in 1999.

My question, therefore, is different: Should Donald Driver start against San Francisco, even knowing Driver hasn’t been able to do much this past season?

I say yes.

Before you go ballistic, hear me out.  Driver’s history needs to be factored into the equation.  He’s a three-time Pro Bowler with seven seasons of 1000 receiving yards or better.  He’s a well-prepared professional with enough speed and smarts that it’s quite possible he can still make plays, even at his advanced football age of 37.

Yes, yes, I know that Driver only had 565 yards receiving in 2010 and 445 in 2011.  I know by those numbers that he was starting to slow down, and that opposing defenses had fully adjusted to him.

Still.  Driver has heart.  He continues to have skills.  And he can still help the Packers win — but he must be on the field and have a chance to catch the football in order for this to happen.

My thought is this: the 49ers definitely won’t be expecting Driver to start, especially as Driver was a “healthy inactive” for the playoff game versus Minnesota this past Saturday.  They’ll be feverishly studying game film on the other Packers receivers — Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb — and will forget about Driver, as Driver appears at this moment to be nothing but an afterthought.

This could be a dangerous mistake.

Driver can still beat any team in the NFL if given a chance.  He knows the opposing defensive players and their tendencies.  He knows the opposing defensive coordinators, too, much less their tendencies.  And he knows what he has to do to make plays, even though he’s gotten little opportunity to do so this past season in Green Bay.

Besides, if this is Driver’s last game with Green Bay, he should be treated with the respect he has earned due to his three Pro Bowl seasons and his seven 1000-plus yardage seasons.

That’s why I believe that Driver should start the game against San Francisco, much less play.  Because I truly believe that Driver still has more to give, if only head coach Mike McCarthy will allow Driver to do so.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 7, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Donald Driver Wins DWTS

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Earlier this year, I blogged about Donald Driver being a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”  I’ve watched Driver, a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, play for the last twelve years; he is as fierce and tough a competitor as they come, yet he’s never been big on showboating or making a name for himself.  Driver is the type of guy who exalts his teammates, coaching staff, and family, which is why I’ve always enjoyed rooting for him.

Earlier tonight, Driver won this season of DWTS with his professional dance partner, Peta Murgatroyd.  Driver was the odds-on favorite in Las Vegas and was also one of the fan favorites throughout this past season, but it was never clear that he would indeed be the final person standing.  This had nothing to do with Driver’s dancing, which was excellent, but was instead about how well everyone else danced this season, too.

Over and over again during the past ten-week season, the judges exalted the level of competition, seemingly the highest it’s ever been, which is why it wasn’t easy to pick Driver (even as good as he was all season) as the winner.  And because the level of competition was so very high, it was nearly impossible to determine what the crowd would do from week to week.  The contestants who went out in fourth, fifth, and sixth places were all very good to excellent dancers who would’ve been Top Three material any other season — perhaps even winning material.  

But all any competitor can do is this: control what you can control, and don’t worry about anything else.  Driver did that: he controlled what he could control by making sure to improve as a dancer every single week.  He listened to his pro, Murgatroyd, and he also listened carefully to the judges.   Then he went out the next week and danced even better, because he took their criticism to heart.

Driver had another thing in his favor: he improved every single week.  It may seem strange, but as a long-time watcher of DWTS, I’m aware that DWTS is often decided by who improves the most as much as who is the best dancer/who does the crowd enjoy watching dance the most.  Fortunately for Driver, all of these factors — all of them — were in his favor.

Driver is a classy guy, and his behavior tonight on the final DWTS results show proved it.  Unlike some past winners, he immediately congratulated the runners-up and their partners (singer Katherine Jenkins and her partner, Mark Ballas, finished second; actor William Levy and his partner, Cheryl Burke, finished third).  Driver also made it clear that he couldn’t have done any of this without Murgatroyd, his partner, and thanked ABC for the opportunity of being on the show. 

All of this — class, professionalism, strong work-ethic, and graciousness — is why I’ve enjoyed watching Driver on the football field, and now off it on DWTS.  And it’s also why I’m glad to say, “Congratulations, Donald, on your well-deserved DWTS win!”

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 22, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Donald Driver does “Dancing with the Stars”

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Folks, in case you haven’t heard yet, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver, 37, who holds a number of receiving records for the Packers, has decided to become a contestant on ABC’s hit TV show, “Dancing with the Stars.”  Driver will be teamed with Peta Murgatroyd, and has already said that the idea of getting spray tanned or wearing some of the outlandish outfits both men and women are expected to wear is going to take some getting used to.

Here’s a link to a story from Sports Illustrated about Driver going on DWTS that focuses on the oddity of athletes going on this show at all:

http://nfl.si.com/2012/02/28/donald-driver-joins-long-strange-legacy-of-athletes-on-dancing-with-the-stars/?section=si_latest

And the Los Angeles Times asks the question, “Can Donald Driver stay healthy?”  Here’s a relevant quote:

But injuries tend to run through “DWTS” seasons like linemen picking their way through an agility ladder. . . even experienced hoofers have been plagued with physical woes, including Jennifer Grey, who rose to fame in the film “Dirty Dancing.”

. . .

This should all be sobering stuff for Driver, who has played for the Packers since 1999 and — unlike fellow “DWTS” contestant Martina Navratilova, who retired from tennis years ago — is still very much in the game. At 37, he’s getting on in years for an NFL-er. And he has seen his share of workplace injuries in recent years. He sprained his ankle early during the 2011 Super Bowl and couldn’t return to the game, although the Packers won anyway.

What’s most surprising about the news that Driver will go on DWTS is that there were no hints in Wisconsin about this to the best of my knowledge; absolutely none.  Driver is a guy with a sunny personality and a very strong work ethic who’s done a great deal for charity in the past; if any of his personal charm translates to television, my guess is that he’ll do very well, providing he doesn’t sustain a serious injury.

I hate even writing the last, mind you, though it wasn’t me who brought up the “injury subject.”  But it’s the truth; even well-conditioned athletes like Driver have had troubles on this show because what they’re doing, dance-wise, is very different from what they do on the football field, on the basketball court, etc.  Dancing uses different muscles and that’s why someone who is in excellent shape can still end up injured (with the worst injury coming to Misty May Treanor several years ago, who tore her Achilles tendon; her partner was Maksim Chmerikovskiy).

Here’s to Driver for being willing to do something way out of his comfort zone.  And may he do well, be pain-free, and learn a new skill that he can share with his wife down the line during this season of DWTS.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 29, 2012 at 11:40 pm