Chip on Driver's shoulder grows

Wide receiver driven by lack of respect from others in league

There is no doubt, at least in the eyes of Green Bay Packers fans, that Donald Driver should be named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad for his performance this season. But will he? Has he gained enough respect from fans, peers and coaches around the league to earn the cherished honor?

"I don't know," said Driver on Friday, the day that voting by fans concluded.

A reporter in front of Driver near his locker asked him why he felt that way, and Driver promply replied, "I felt I should have went two years in a row. I didn't … so I don't care. If I go, I go. If I don't, I don't."

The team will be announced on Dec. 21 for the annual all-star game to be played in Honolulu in February. Of all the Green Bay Packers under consideration for the Pro Bowl, including cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson, and linebacker A.J. Hawk, Driver has the best shot of going. Still, he may get overshadowed by receivers from other bigger-market teams, and/or popular veterans who seem to make it year after year no matter how well they are performing.

Driver has more than 1,100 yards receiving this season, topping the 1000-yard mark for the third straight year. He is Brett Favre's go-to guy. He is the most valuable player on Green Bay's offense. However, playing in Green Bay, Driver is often overlooked and under appreciated by bigger-market fans, players and coaches, all of whom cast votes in the Pro Bowl process. But getting overlooked is nothing new for Driver, and that perhaps is what fuels his desire to succeed week after week. It's the reason the king-sized chip on his shoulder never seems to go away.

"I'm going to play with a chip on my shoulder every year," Driver said. "It doesn't matter. When I came into the league in 1999, I was mad because every team left me sitting on the table except the Packers. I have a chip till I'm retired."

No doubt, Driver probably realizes the respect that he has earned from his coaches, teammates and opponents for his competitiveness and talent, but he's not about to show it. He might lose his edge, which eventually will turn an elite player into an average, or below-average player.

In a way, it's almost better for Driver that he not make the Pro Bowl squad, though he certainly deserves the honor. For Driver, that's OK. It's the reality he knows after not making the team following 1,000-yard seasons in 2004 and '05. He was an alternate last year. In 2002, Driver became the lowest drafted Packers Pro Bowler in 19 years.

Since then, he has starred with the Packers, but is not showing up on the radar of elite receivers, or loud-mouthed receivers like Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson.

"I think it's just politics," Driver said. "When I look at it the last couple of years … when Javon went (2004), I felt I should have went with Javon, and then the year after that I felt I should have gone. It gets to a point where you stop worrying about it. The year I went, I enjoyed it, but when you don't go you just have to deal with it."

Santana Moss (Washington), Steve Smith (Carolina), Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona) and Torry Holt (St. Louis) were named as wide receivers for the NFC squad last year. Smith led the voting for receivers when voting closed on Friday.

For now, Driver's not going to think about it, only about the game ahead and another chance to prove that he belongs with the elite receivers in Hawaii. The good thing is that he's not about to let that chip on his shoulder go away.

That kind of Pro Bowl attitude will mean more to the Packers than any kind of honor Driver receives.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report. E-mail him at

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