Driver's Next Stop: Packers Hall

Donald Driver signs a contract extension through the 2012 season, which he says will allow him to retire as a member of the Green Bay Packers.

For 11-plus years, Donald Driver has been a feel-good story.

Seventh-round afterthought out of Alcorn State beating out about a half-dozen others to earn a roster spot in 1999. Heart and soul of the offense. The one to bring energy during the dog days of training camp or just another regular-season practice. The most prolific receiver in franchise history. A pillar of the community through his off-the-field deeds.

And now, with a two-year contract extension, the 35-year-old Driver will be catching passes and breaking records for the Packers through at least the 2012 season. With this deal, Driver says he will retire as a Packer.

"It's very special," Driver told reporters on Friday. "You don't see it too often, and to get that opportunity to wear the green and gold and the tradition behind a great organization, it's remarkable. My wife, she's always said she never wanted to leave Green Bay. I've always said I never wanted to leave here. When I got the opportunity in 1999, it was just trying to make it year by year. Now that I get to finish my career out here, it's going to be remarkable. One day hoping that I can be in the Packers Hall of Fame, that's going to be a great thing."

Hoping to be in the Packers Hall of Fame?

Ha!

Already the franchise's career leader in receptions with 647, Driver needs just 607 yards to eclipse Pro Football Hall of Famer James Lofton's club record of 9,656 receiving yards. He also holds records for most consecutive game with a catch (127 and counting) and the Lambeau Field standards for catches (311) and receiving yards (4,285).


Donald Driver
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Driver said negotiations have been ongoing since the end of last season. He signed the deal with his wife, Betina, and children Cristian and Christina.

"You don't see too many players go through the fussing and bustle about wanting to stay here, wanting to go somewhere else," Driver said. "Me and the organization sat down and we had a great conversation that I wanted to finish my career out here. I've always had dreams … a great guy had worn the number before me, James Lofton, and I'm hoping that I can stay here long enough that I can break his record and one day that that jersey will never be worn again and my name is going to be in the rings like all of the great players before me."

For the last year, Driver has said he wants to play until he's 40. When this deal expires, he'll be 37 — or 38, if the 2012 season ends at the Super Bowl. So, this might not be Driver's last contract. Whether it is or it isn't, he wants his career to end in Green Bay.

"It gets to a point where you realize that you want to be here your whole career," Driver said. "Whatever it is, you accept it and you play it out and if you still feel like you want to play at that time, you do. I sat down with my wife and told my wife what I really want to do. I've always said I want to play until I'm 40. If the Lord tells me at 38, when my contract is up, to continue playing, I will, but if not, then I retire and I'm happy about it.

"I'm willing to walk away before they tell have to me to walk away. I think that's more respectful to the organization, myself, just to walk away from the game before I embarrass myself."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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