GREEN BAY — Even at the peak of his 14-year NFL career, Donald Driver never dreamed of one day being inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
It wasn’t until after Driver retired as the franchise’s all-time leading receiver in 2013 that it finally set in what the former seventh-round pick out of Alcorn State had accomplished.
Now, Driver will take his place among the franchise’s all-time greats after the Packers Hall of Fame Inc. announced Driver will be a part of its 47th induction class during a ceremony July 22, 2017, in the Lambeau Field Atrium.
Driver was overcome with emotion at the start of his conference call with Green Bay media on Tuesday, as he reflected on his humble beginnings and the bond he’s shared with the Packers’ fan base since entering the NFL in 1999.
“It’s something that I can always look back and be able to tell my kids that their dad, he accomplished something great,” said Driver, a father of three. “Sometimes words can’t even express how you feel, but it’s truly been a blessing to now be among the greatest players who have paved the way for us to play this game.
“To be among those great icons and legends is truly something special when you mention all these great legends like Bart Starr, Vince Lombardi, Curly Lambeau, Ray Nitschke, that list goes on and on and on.”
Driver played in 205 games for the Packers, second-most in franchise history behind only quarterback Brett Favre. His 743 receptions and 10,137 receiving yards lead all Packers receivers, with his 62 career touchdowns tied for fifth in franchise history.
A four-time Pro Bowler, Driver caught at least one pass in 133 straight games for the Packers and finished with 50 or more receptions in nine consecutive campaigns.
A member of the Packers’ Super Bowl team in 2010, Driver hoped his resume would be good enough to merit consideration into the Packers Hall of Fame, but he was humbled to be chosen in his first year of eligibility.
“I’m blessed and honored to say that to be on the first ballot is truly something special,” Driver said. “I’m going to cherish this moment for the rest of my life. I’ve always said this – if I never, ever got into the (Pro Football) Hall of Fame, if I ever get into the Packer Hall of Fame that was good enough for me. To receive this honor is special.”
The honor is meaningful to Driver on multiple levels, but perhaps none more special than the reality his children and grandchildren will one day to be able to visit Lambeau Field and see everything their father and grandfather accomplished.
It also gives Driver one more opportunity to connect with the fan base that embraced him with open arms from the moment he was drafted by the Packers until this very day.
It was the fans who helped him win “Dancing With The Stars” in 2012 and then packed the Lambeau Field Atrium for his retirement news conference in February 2013.
Driver said his approach to celebrity has always been built on the belief that he’s just another person and his success is directly tied to his relationship with the fans.
After a 14-year bond on the field, they’ll now go into the Packers Hall of Fame together.
“I’ve always said the fans are what make me go,” Driver said. “They are the heart and soul. When I’m out on the field, my heart beats for them. Every catch is for them. Every block, everything I do is for the fans.
“If the fans are listening, I love them and I’m going to be there for them and we’re going to celebrate this moment together.”
Information about tickets for the Packers Hall of Fame banquet is still being finalized and will be released in the near future (www.packershalloffame.com).