Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver learned a brutal lesson last week on the power of social media.
Driver, whose place on the Packers’ 2012 roster is most certainly up in the air, sent out the following message on Twitter this past Thursday:
“Hello everyone: I’m a packer for life. It will never change. Go Pack Go!!!!”
With that comment, Packer Nation immediately awoke from its post-draft slumber. Had the Packers decided to hang onto one of the most beloved players in franchise history or was this a way for Driver to cryptically inform Cheeseheads all over the world that his time in green and gold was indeed up?
Even after clarifications issued by Driver and his agent, Jordon Woy, it’s currently the hot topic around the water cooler for Packer fans everywhere. Some see things through the eyes of GM Ted Thompson and say that while they will always love Driver, the Packers are so deep at the wide receiver position that Driver has to be a casualty to keep players like Tori Gurley on the roster.
Others feel that Driver, whom is often cited as the only offensive player to actually “show up and play” during the playoff debacle this past season against the New York Giants, is still better than any of the other options on the roster.
I would fall more into the first group than the second, thought I totally understand where people who insist Driver must stay are coming from. Although I have to say that Packer fans have to realize they have seen this script play out before and it is not a good idea to be going down this road again.
Remember the Summer of Favre in 2008? Well, 2012 is appearing to be the sequel: the Summer of Driver. I’m not accusing Driver of being a prima donna like Favre. Far from it. Driver has handled this situation perfectly, no doubt taking cues from the PR disaster that was Favre’s divorce from the Packers. Not to mention Driver has always been one of the most decent guys in the NFL.
Fans are obsessing over this pending decision to the point that it is going to consume discussion even more than it has already. Just wait until the cut down days during the preseason. It is reasonable to believe Driver could at least make it to training camp where he will actually be allowed to compete for a roster spot.
Should the Packers decide to move on from Driver, which I personally believe is still a crapshoot either way, Thompson once again will face backlash from fans although it will not even come close to rivaling what he heard back in 2008. However, with a Super Bowl title now to his credit, Thompson should by now have earned the benefit of the doubt with fans.
Unfortunately when it comes to players with a stature like Driver, the front office person usually takes a lot of heat for it no matter how much sense it makes in relation to the product on the field. Some fans cling to players like Driver, Favre and Peyton Manning because they’re links to an era of excitement and success despite the fact that those waiting in the wings could bring just as much success or perhaps even more.
I’m not saying FIRE TED THOMPSON protests will break out again, but I think there will be some genuine anger directed at the Packers GM.
Thompson believes that sentimentality does not win championships. He believed it in 2008 and thanks to the team’s Super Bowl XLV title and it’s 15-1 record in 2011 likely believes it even more now. It’s definitely going to be a tough call to make given what Driver has been willing to give up to remain on the Packers roster, but sometimes the right decision isn’t the easiest nor is it the most popular.
I totally understand why some people will be so upset should Driver be released. I’ll admit he’s been one of my favorite Packers for the past ten seasons as well. What he had to overcome to get where is today as well as how he carries himself on and off the field are truly remarkable stories.
Honestly, I’d feel the same way with any player. After what the team went through with Favre in 2008 and what the Indianapolis Colts went through this past offseason with Manning, fans need to come terms with the fact that no player is guaranteed to finish their career with the team that drafted them and that it is becoming even more of a rarity for such a thing to occur.
That means even Aaron Rodgers could play somewhere else in the future. I’m hoping not, but anything can happen in the NFL. Who would have thought in 2010 Manning would be a Bronco in two years or in 2007 who’d have thought Favre would be a Viking? The NFL is too unpredictable to assume anything with anyone.
Maybe that’s why it is so much fun to follow.
If Driver is indeed let go, fans need to salute him and then move on. You never know what could be around the corner and waiting in the wings. That’s not to say Driver should be forgotten. His impact and legacy will be felt around the Packers an the league for decades to come. He will be elected into the Packers Hall of Fame and just maybe even the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It will be an emotional day for Packer Nation, but I ask all of you to keep things in perspective. The memories of Driver’s time in Green Bay will endure much longer than the story of this offseason and the debate over his future.
DD wouldn’t have it any other way.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke