The face of the franchise

Donald Driver takes his swing as host of annual charity softball game

Donald Driver will be Aaron Rodgers' new best friend.

On the field, sure, Driver's knack for getting open, making tough catches and turning 5-yard catches into 10-yard gains will be welcomed by Rodgers.

But it's Driver's personality and willingness to give his time that will make Rodgers' transition from backup quarterback to Brett Favre's successor a little easier.

At Sunday's Donald Driver Charity Softball game at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute, the 5,366 fans gave the receiver the biggest cheer. Not surprising, given Driver's megawatt smile and his willingness to replace Favre as the leader of the offense-vs.-defense charity game.

"I never dreamed of having that title," Driver said of being the new face of the franchise. "I thought Brett would play forever, and I'd just hang on his right shoulder for a while. You think of all the people who have been the face of the Packers for so many years, like Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr and Don Hutson and Brett Favre.

"And now they have, I guess you could say, placed that title on me."

It's easy to see why the fans have bestowed that title on him. If anyone had as much fun as Favre on game days, it was Driver. The bond Favre and Driver formed didn't hurt, either, nor did Driver's rise from obscure seventh-round pick to future Packers Hall of Famer.

"I like to have fun and laugh with everyone. The fans, they know I'm a down-to-earth guy. And that's what it's all about," Driver said.

He certainly wasn't sending a message to Rodgers, but hopefully the quarterback will follow the advice, anyway. "You have to be normal," Driver continued, "and you have to enjoy it. And that's what I try to do as much as possible."

Proceeds from the game will benefit Driver's foundation, Goodwill and the Special Olympics.

"I'm really pleased that Donald stepped forward to take over this game for Brett because it is such a great community event that it would be a shame to let it go by the wayside," said Packers president Mark Murphy, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

For what it's worth, the defense snapped a five-game losing streak when safety Tyrone Culver drove in Charles Woodson with a two-run homer in the eighth inning.

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com


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