GREEN BAY – Donald Driver is looking forward to his retirement from the National Football League. He has plans for television appearances and community events, spending time with family, and even the release of his “life story,” a book set to hit shelves in September.
But before all that, his wife Betina has one item on his to-do list.
“My wife already made it clear that the first thing in retirement is getting the squirrels out of our attic in Dallas,” the Green Bay Packers’ all-time leading receiver said with a laugh during Wednesday’s retirement event at Lambeau Field. “So that’s the first thing I’ll be doing when I get back.”
After he returns home to take care of the critters inhabiting his house – Driver and his family flew back to Dallas Wednesday afternoon – he has plans to take advantage of the national exposure that winning the 14th season of Dancing with the Stars earned him.
“Within the next week, I’ll be hosting The Katie Couric Show,” Driver said. “I’ll be co-hosting the show with her. It’ll be a nice little show, it’s going to be a wedding edition – something I like to do. I (can) plan your wedding if you decide to get married. I have my life story, my book coming out in September. I’m also doing Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition with Chris Powell, so I’m ready.”
Driver plans to continue to stay involved in the community all over the state of Wisconsin, and will attend a Milwaukee Admirals game on Feb. 15 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center for a ceremonial puck drop to start the game. The wide receiver also has other events lined up through the Donald Driver Foundation, including the sixth annual Donald Driver Celebrity Softball game in June.
Because of all the work he has done since his rookie season in 1999, Driver is confident that he won’t “struggle” after retiring from football.
But while Driver has set himself up well for retirement, he said it was still a “tough decision” for him and his family to make. But he felt he owed it the fans and the Green Bay Packers organization to “not tarnish the legacy” he and his family have established.
“I’ve always said that I never want to wear another uniform—but always the green and gold,” Driver said. “Sometimes, I sit at home and think about the history of this great franchise and I think of the players and the great coaches that came before me like Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Willie Davis, Jerry Kramer, the great Reggie White, Brett Favre, James Lofton, Sterling Sharpe, Ahman Green, Rob Davis, I mean this list goes on and on and on. So I felt that this is an opportunity to walk away from the game knowing that I’ve given it all that I can.”
Driver, who said that the most memorable moment as an NFL player was running out of the tunnel before Super Bowl XLV, said the game-day experience is one that he will miss.
“I think the most thing I’m going to miss is running out that tunnel and 70,000 cheering you on every time you catch a ball, you make a ball, and they’re screaming your name,” Driver said. “That’s what I’m going to miss.”
Driver may miss being on the field on game days, but when asked about returning to football as a coach – perhaps as a future wide receivers coach for the Packers – Driver didn’t rule it out, but made it clear he was ready to spend time with his family.
“They spend too many hours at the building,” Driver said. “I’m more of a family guy. I love to be with my family. I love to spend as much time as I can with my family. I think what those guys do is an amazing job. I don’t know if I want to coach. I don’t think E.B. (Edgar Bennett) is ready give up his job quite yet. I’ll give him another 5-6 years when he became a head coach, then we’ll see.”
In the meantime, Driver is ready for wherever retirement takes him.
“I’m ready for whatever comes next,” Driver said. “I think God has a plan for me. Football was just a starting point. I’m ready to follow whatever God has next.”
Sarah Barshop covers the Packers for ESPNWisconsin.com. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/sarahbarshop.