Driver Keeps Adding to Legacy

Back in 1999, an unknown rookie by the name of Donald Driver scored his first career touchdown against Carolina. On Sunday, Driver broke James Lofton's franchise record for receiving yards with a 10-yarder vs. Panthers.

Donald Driver might not be the best receiver in Green Bay Packers history — that would be Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Hutson — but he might be the best member of the hands team.

For the second consecutive week, Driver helped the Packers hold onto victory by flashing the athletic ability, hands and guts that have made him the team's career leader in receptions and receiving yards.

Driver chiseled his name into the top spot of the Packers' record book on Sunday at Carolina when he hauled in a 10-yard catch during the third quarter. With that, Driver has 9,666 career receiving yards — breaking a tie with Pro Football Hall of Famer James Lofton that he forged last week against New Orleans.

"I'm just happy that it's all said and done, it's over," Driver said. "I can relax and not worry about breaking any other records."

He's broken plenty of team records during a remarkable career. There are his nine consecutive seasons — and counting? — of 50-plus receptions. He caught at least one pass in 133 consecutive games from the end of 2001 to midseason last year. He's got seven seasons of 1,000 yards and had six consecutive seasons of 1,000 yards, a streak that ended last season.

Incredibly, he ranks 32nd in league history with 703 receptions. That puts him 47 away from Pro Football Hall of Famers Michael Irvin and Charlie Joiner, who are in 29th place. If he finishes this season with 70 catches — maybe a long shot — he'd move into the top 25.

Not bad for a player who was drafted more than 200 spots later than two of the other Packers greats — Lofton and Sterling Sharpe — in the seventh round in 1999. He played at Alcorn State in Lorman, Miss., and was one of 13 receivers in camp during summer 1999. He was given lucky jersey No. 13 as he fought to stand out from a crowd that included well-known commodities like Derrick Mayes, Robert Brooks and Corey Bradford along with never-knowns like Dee Miller, Jahine Arnold and Zola Davis.

Driver wraps up the game.
Jeremy Brevard/US Presswire
As W. Keith Roerdink wrote in the Cover Story of the new Packer Report Magazine, there was no guarantee of a roster spot for Driver behind starters Antonio Freeman and Bill Schroeder. But considering he overcame a childhood where he had no guarantee of a roof over his head or food on the table, and had to resort to selling drugs and stealing cars to help his family get by, this would be easy by comparison. Driver had turned his life around long ago, with the help of his grandmother, Betty Lofton (no relation to James — though, certainly, ironic), but where he came from, what he went through and how he arrived in the NFL defined everything about how his career has unfolded.

Driver's career started quietly, with three catches as a rookie and 37 in his first three seasons. Maybe it'll end quietly, too. Officially, only one pass was thrown his way — though Driver thought he'd broken Lofton's record a couple plays earlier but the play was nullified by a holding call. Still, there he was, showing that the guy who had qualified for the Olympic Trials in the high jump in 1996 still has some spring in his legs by rising above the crowd to corral an onside kick with 37 seconds remaining.

"(Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum) told me before that play, ‘Donald, go get it, because I know they're going to kick it to you.' I told him, ‘They made a mistake once again. If they kick it where it bounces up, I'm going to get it.' I think they're going to start keeping it on the ground now."

Driver, whose first career touchdown came against these Panthers in 1999, turned 36 just before the Super Bowl. He has the ring and the records. He's also got the fire. The fire of a seventh-round pick that just won't go out.

"You know," Driver said, "I talked to the team before we went out today, and I told them, ‘We are the champs, and it's only going to take three things to make sure that we overcome any obstacles we face, and that's motivation, dedication and team work.' And I think today was a proven fact, that we had to have all three phases to win the game."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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