Packers all-time leading receiver Driver to retire

Packers all-time leading receiver Driver to retire

NEW ORLEANS (AP) No other uniform would fit Donald Driver.

The Green Bay Packers all-time leading receiver announced his retirement Thursday morning, with a public ceremony planned for Feb. 6 at the Lambeau Field Atrium.

``I've always said I never want to wear another uniform. I've always said that I owe it to the fans to retire as a Packer,'' Driver said. ``I feel like I can still play, but if I can't play for my organization, then I can't play for anyone else.''

Driver finishes his 14-year career as Green Bay's all-time leader in yards receiving (10,137 yards), catches (743) and 1,000-yard seasons (seven), and is third behind Don Hutson and Sterling Sharpe with 61 touchdown receptions. A four-time Pro Bowler, he was Green Bay's MVP in 2002 and was part of the team that won the Super Bowl following the 2010 season.

Only Brett Favre played more games in a Packers uniform.

``All 14 years. Every day,'' Driver said in an interview on ESPN's ``Mike & Mike'' when asked what his favorite memory is. ``That's a special place to walk out of, and that's something I'll never forget.''

Drafted by Green Bay in the seventh round of the 1999 draft, Driver became one of the most popular and prolific Packers. He had six straight 1,000-yard seasons from 2004-09, averaging 14 yards per catch during the stretch. He made at least one catch in 133 straight games from 2002 to 2010, another franchise record.

He's one of only 18 wide receivers in NFL history with 700-plus career catches and 10,000 or more receiving yards in 200 games.

``It was a pleasure to share the field with you for 4 years! Great player, tremendous person. (hash)retire80,'' offensive guard T.J. Lang said on Twitter.

Aaron Rodgers added, ``Thanks for the memories quickie, you will be missed (hash)Packer4Life.''

Quickie is Driver's childhood nickname.

Green Bay fans have a close bond with every Packers player, but they had a particular soft spot for Driver. They loved his bright smile and infectious laugh, and were moved by his story of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. Growing up, Driver and his family were so poor that he, his mother and siblings sometimes spent the nights in a U-Haul. He and his brother stole cars to get money, and Driver sold drugs, too.

Packers fans embraced him - his jersey is a popular sight at Lambeau Field, right up there with Rodgers' No. 12 and Clay Matthews' No. 52 - and he happily returned the love. He's been active in the community throughout his career and said that won't change. His annual community softball game will be played June 16.

``That's my second home,'' Driver said. ``I'm born and raised in Houston, Texas, but Wisconsin is always going to be a home for me, and I'll always be back.'

Though Driver had said he hoped to play until he was 40 - he turns 38 on Saturday - his retirement was hardly a surprise. He had restructured the final year of his contract to come back this season, but played only a bit role in the offense with Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb ahead of him on the depth chart. Driver's eight catches for 77 yards were his lowest totals since his rookie season, and he was inactive for four games, including the NFC wild-card, his final game at Lambeau Field.

Though coach Mike McCarthy didn't say as much during their postseason meeting, Driver knew he wasn't in the Packers plans for next season.

``I just kind of knew in his eyes,'' Driver said. ``When you've known a guy for so long and you're friends, it's hard for him to tell you that they're not going to bring me back. I just kind of looked at him and I just kind of knew that that's what they were going to do.''

And that made his decision easy.

Minnesota reportedly had interest in Driver, and he said he thinks there would have been other teams that wanted him, too. But he wasn't going to play for anyone besides the Packers, a decision supported by his wife Bettina and their three children.

``Do I feel like I can still play? Yes,'' he said. ``But at the end of the day, I owe it to the fans to put the cleats up. I promised them years ago that I would never wear nothing but green and gold, so I owe it to them to walk away.''

Driver also didn't want to put the Packers in a tough spot, having watched them go through their messy divorce with Brett Favre.

``I just wanted to make it easy on the organization, not put any pressure on them,'' Driver said. ``Just be able to walk away on my own terms and not have them say, `We're not going to bring you back.'''

Instead, the Packers are hosting his retirement party next week. Driver's formal announcement will be made in the Lambeau Field Atrium, and there are a limited number of free tickets for fans available on a first-come, first-served basis.

``I'm happy with the decision I made,'' Driver said. ``It will be a little tougher on Feb. 6. I'm going to get emotional. I'm trying not to get too emotional today, but Feb. 6 I know will be emotional.''

While Driver may be retiring, there will still be plenty to keep him busy. He's got a book coming out in September, and will appear on ``Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition.'' The ``Dancing with the Stars'' champion is also exploring possibilities in broadcasting, and would be open to a hybrid of sports and entertainment, similar to what former New York Giants linebacker Michael Strahan has done.

But no matter what he does, he'll always be part of the Packers.

``It means the world. Not too many guys get to play for one organization,'' Driver said. ``What I feel like I've done on and off the field has truly been a blessing.''

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Oklahoma star freshman Trae Young to enter NBA Draft

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Oklahoma star freshman Trae Young to enter NBA Draft

After a sensational freshman season at the University of Oklahoma, point guard Trae Young plans to enter the 2018 NBA Draft, according to a report by ESPN.

Young will be one of the most fascinating prospects in this class given the extreme highs and lows of his one college season. He vaulted into the top 10 in most mock drafts after beginning his freshman year on fire, but then began to slip over the final months as his shooting percentage dropped.


Right now the Wizards are lined up to be in the late teens, so it's unlikely he falls to their range. But at this point it's difficult to predict where he will go, whether that is top five or later in the lottery.

It really could go either way. Some teams may see him as a Steph Curry-like scorer who can hit shots from unusually deep range. There were certainly times where Young backed up those comparisons.

Teams could see his flaws as a result of opposing defenses honing in on him because they could at the college level. In the NBA he may have more space and therefore be able to play to his strengths.


Or, teams could look at the fact he shot 36.1 percent from three on a whopping 10.2 attempts per game as a sign he is a chucker. He also led the nation in turnovers, commiting 24 more than the next guy. Young averaged 5.2 giveaways per game.

While Curry is the best-case scenario, Jimmer Fredette may be the worst-case. Fredette was the 10th overall pick in 2011 and now plays in China. 

Young will be an intriguing prospect in the draft because the ceiling is high and the basement is low. 

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Redskins bring in another defensive lineman for free agency visit, per source


Redskins bring in another defensive lineman for free agency visit, per source

The Redskins hosted Sylvester Williams for a free agency visit on Tuesday morning, per a source with knowledge of the situation. 

Williams played in 2017 with the Titans, logging 20 tackles in 11 starts. Tennessee released Williams this offseason, just one year into a three-year, $16 million deal. 

Drafted in the first round by the Broncos in 2013, the 6-foot-3, 313 lbs. Williams' stat line has never really popped. That isn't uncommon for a nose tackle though, as the job is less about tackles than it is holding leverage against the interior of an offensive line. 


Should the Redskins sign 29-year-old Williams, it would represent the first true nose tackle free agency addition since Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton joined the team in 2015 from Denver. In an ironic twist, Williams took over at nose in Denver when Knighton left for Washington, and posted his best season as a Bronco. 

Washington restructured its deal with Terrell McClain, reported first by ESPN, which could allow more flexibility to add another defensive lineman. That could come in the draft, but the club has been very active talking with free agents to play on the defensive front. 

On Monday, Johnathan Hankins and Pernell McPhee visited with Redskins officials in Ashburn. Hankins would carry the heaviest price tag, but his past performance would also indicate the most promise. 

McPhee is an edge rusher with enough bulk to play against the run as well. Williams compares more with Hankins, and could be seen as the secondary option.

Among 79 nose tackles Pro Football Focus graded, Williams ranked 36th. For comparison, Bengals star Geno Atkins ranked No. 1, Dontari Poe ranked 26th, former Redskin Chris Baker ranked 65th and current Redskin Ziggy Hood ranked 79th. 

It's also worth noting that since the Titans released Williams, should the Redskins sign the nose tackle, his contract would not count towards the NFL compensatory pick formula. 

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