Pro Football: I’m now a Donald Driver fan, thanks to ‘Dancing with the Stars’

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

Donald Driver is the all-time leading wide receiver in Green Bay Packers history. He has experienced the highs of Super Bowl glory and the lows of growing up homeless and living in a U-Haul truck during his youth. Now, he’s involved in a competition that bears no resemblance to anything else he’s ever done in his past.

Driver and his dance partner, Peta Murgatroyd, are among the three finalist couples competing for the coveted mirror ball trophy on the hugely popular ABC television series Dancing with the Stars (DWTS). They are matched up against William Levy and his partner Cheryl Burke and Katherine Jenkins and her partner Mark Ballas.

One of those three couples was crowned champion last night (Tuesday, May 22). Those results were unknown at the time I was writing this column. Regardless of whether Driver walks away with the trophy, he’s still a champion in my book.

As all of my friends, and many of you who regularly read my columns know, I’m not a Packers fan by any stretch of the imagination. I do not like anything about that team. Having made that crystal clear, and even though he plays for them, I’m not afraid to say Driver has earned my respect.

The guy seems to be the quintessential family man. He and his wife, Betina, have three children — Cristian, Christina and Charity. They have repeatedly been the focus of the DWTS cameras glowing with pride and support for their dad while he is on the dance floor.

He and his wife created the Donald Driver Foundation in 2001 with a focus on homelessness, education and health and wellness initiatives. He has donated thousands of hours of his time for hundreds of community appearances.

His children and his commitment to education drove him to write three children’s books revolving around the lovable character “Quickie.” The books’ illustrations and stories are based on Donald’s family. He read his latest book, Quickie Goes to the Big Game, at the Library of Congress at an event that featured First Lady Michelle Obama.

He’s not only a gifted athlete, a loving husband and father, he can also definitely dance. I don’t know whether he’ll end up walking away with the mirror ball trophy or not. It really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. What does matter is that he’s represented not only his team, but more importantly his self and his entire family very well in the eyes of this viewer.

I’ll never be a Green Bay Packers fan, but thanks to Driver’s story and his performance on the show this season, I am a Donald Driver fan!

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

From the May 23-29, 2012, issue

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