Donald Driver announces his retirement, won't be a Viking
Donald Driver a Viking? No way.
Just a day after TV speculation that Driver would consider playing in Minnesota, the Packers announced Thursday morning that Driver will retire next Wednesday in a ceremony at 11 a.m. in the Lambeau Field Atrium.
He'll turn 38 on Groundhog Day, after 14 years with the only NFL team he's ever played for. He took a big pay cut to return in 2012, and with just eight catches, time diminished his skills.
Even if he was in prime shape, Driver is clearly not the type of Packer to run to the archrival Vikings like Brett Favre, Ryan Longwell, Darren Sharper and Robert Ferguson did. In a statement Thursday morning, Driver said he always enjoyed a special bond with Packer fans.
"I can think of no better way to retire than to celebrate with them and the Packers' organization," he said.
Team President Mark Murphy, General Manager Ted Thompson and Coach Mike McCarthy will speak at Wednesday's retirement ceremony. There will be limited seats for fans as well.
Free tickets can be picked up at Lambeau starting at 9 a.m. Friday with a limit of four per person.
Driver will bow out on the second anniversary of the Packers' last Super Bowl win over Pittsburgh.
He became the Packers' all-time leading receiver in 2011. He leaves with 10,137 receiving yards. He surpassed Sterling Sharpe in 2009 to become the team's career leader in catches with 743.
Driver also has team records with seven consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, catches in 133 straight games, and having 50-plus catches in nine straight years.
He had the longest tenure of any Packer this season, having been drafted in 1999 out of Alcorn State.
Driver has been talking about his retirement to some of the 4,000 media members assembled at the Super Bowl in New Orleans. Driver broke the news Thursday morning on ESPN's "Mike and Mike in the Morning" show. The Packers made it official around the same time.
On Tuesday, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers saluted Driver on his Milwaukee radio show, in anticipation that an announcement would come this week. Rodgers said Driver has had an incredible career and that he's been a "pleasure to be around."
The quarterback said Driver endeared himself to the fans, made a "ton of plays," and did things the "right way."
Rodgers also said Driver would have no problem making a transition to other parts of the sports business, or entertainment.
Rodgers said Driver would "be great at whatever he decides to do."
The Packers' top brass will speak at Driver's retirement ceremony, set for 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, in the Lambeau Field Atrium.