Driver, Kampman are two of a special kind's Matt Tevsh explains how wide receiver Donald Driver and defensive end Aaron Kampman have earned their way among NFL's elite players.

The NFL Nation finally caught on Tuesday to what many at 1265 Lombardi Avenue knew for a long time – Donald Driver and Aaron Kampman are two of the best football players in the NFL and have been for a long time.

Late Tuesday afternoon it was announced that both Driver and Kampman were voted by coaches, players, and fans to the Pro Bowl for the first time. Quite frankly, no two players on the Packers deserve to go more. The duo has earned the honor in every sense of the word.

Driver, who played in the Pro Bowl in 2002 as an alternate, is among NFL leaders with 80 catches for 1,173 and seven touchdowns.

Kampman is tied for second in the league with 12.5 sacks.

Both players have always been good, they have just not had the stage in the past to put up numbers necessary to get selected to the Pro Bowl. This year they finally do even if they are not playing any differently.

Driver has always been questioned nationally as a No. 1 receiver for whatever reason. For much of his career in Green Bay he has assumed a No. 2 role, but when Javon Walker was traded this off-season, he became the clear-cut No. 1. Not only did he grab a hold of that spot, but he has thrived in it. Even though he is the most targeted man on the Packers' offense, he has produced the most productive season of his eight-year career.

Even with the Pro Bowl honors and respect from defenders around the league, Driver does not often get the national attention he probably should. Really, though, he is one of the best No. 1's around the league.

"I think the guys that I play with week-in and week-out," explained Driver, "I think I earn the respect from those guys. But I think national attention? I haven't earned that yet. I still have a ways to go, and I think that's why I play with a grudge on my shoulder. That's how I play the game. I try to prove to people week-in and week-out that I am one of the best."

Kampman has always been labeled as an overachiever, but talk to any of the Packers' coaches over the past five years, and they will simply say that he has been the Packers' best defensive lineman. Routinely he graded out higher than any other lineman after weekly film study. The talent and technique have always been there, but in the past two years, a new scheme has cut him loose.

When ex-defensive coordinator Jim Bates came to Green Bay and installed a new scheme in 2005, Kampman became an every-down player. Whereas in the first three years of his career he would play more of a less-glamorous power end position where he had to hold the point of attack, now he is free to be more of a pass rusher. No longer is he the player that played just first and second down, but he is one of the most complete players in the league and rarely takes a play off. Over the past two seasons, he worked hard on his pass rush skills and went from 285 pounds to the low-260's knowing what the scheme could allow him to do. The opposition has taken notice.

"Yeah, there have been a number of times after games where guys have come up and had some very nice comments, and that's always nice to hear," said Kampman.

Considering both Driver and Kampman got hefty new contracts from the Packers this year, their individual accomplishments this season speak volumes about what type of people and players they are. Most players have their best season the year before their contract is due to expire, knowing that they may have a big payday ahead of them.

"I've never played that way," said Kampman. "I always just try to focus on my beliefs and playing the way I play. I know those things are out there, but I try not to focus on those things. I really didn't feel any extra pressure."

In an increasingly individual sport driven by league marketing and fantasy leagues, players like Driver and Kampman, who play in a small market, are not often recognized for just how good they are. Now that they are Pro Bowlers, that perception should change.

Matt Tevsh

Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to and Packer Report. E-mail him at

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