COMMENTARY | The mark of a truly great player is that over the course of his career, you can't pinpoint a signature moment, but rather it's the sum total of his accomplishments that truly leave you in awe.
For Donald Driver as a Green Bay Packer, it wasn't just what he did on the field, but off as well.
His ear-to-ear smile has been a mainstay in the Wisconsin area for over a decade. Never the best receiver in football, but always one of the most fearless, Driver endeared himself to Cheesehead nation with his ability to persevere.
In the West Coast Offense, Driver was constantly going over the middle and taking shots from linebackers and safeties. I remember being in the stands in 2003 when a nasty collision had him carted off in a neck brace.
You've never heard a more raucous cheer for an injured player than when 'DD' gave the crowd the thumbs up as he was wheeled to the locker room.
He may not have been the "best" Packers receiver ever, but he's certainly everyone's favorite. This is the same player who is the team's all-time leader in receiving yards, yet was playing special teams in his final game in Green Bay just because he wanted to play and help his team.
I had a Robert Brooks poster over my bed when I was growing up, won a signed Antonio Freeman picture from selling Boy Scout popcorn in elementary school, and yet the Donald Driver signed plaque I have is probably my favorite.
When I got it last year and and put it up in my room, I was that same 10-year-old kid I'd been with my childhood idols.
It was hard to watch this year as Driver was relegated to the inactive list, particularly when he was healthy all season. You got the feeling that Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy would have preferred Donald to retire last offseason, but Driver's success on Dancing With the Stars may have increased his leverage with the team.
No Packers fan wants to see 'DD' in another uniform. In some ways, it would be worse than Favre's defection to New York and then Minnesota. Favre had never embraced Green Bay and the community the way Driver has. So, when it appears now Driver will retire, Green Bay has to be uttering some sighs of relief.
It would have been hard to say no to Driver given his popularity, but at 37 years old, the Packers simply didn't have a place for him.
I'll never forget the night Driver and the receivers banded together to help Brett Favre have that magical Monday night game against the Oakland Raiders. Of all the players on the team, I was most happy for Driver when Green Bay won the Super Bowl in 2010.
Few players on any team are liked more than Driver is by Packers fans.
When Brett Favre broke Dan Marino's yardage record in 2007, it was like number four knew he had to get the ball to number 80.
Perhaps his most memorable play was, in an ironic twist of fate, against the same team that his last game was also against. In December, 2010, Driver seemed to break a tackle of every San Francisco defender on his way to a 61-yard touchdown catch at Lambeau Field in a game the Packers won 34-16.
Driver's toughness, determination and fight will always come to define his career. His trademark smile and shimmy after big plays will be what we always remember about a player who went from a kid on the streets stealing cars, to a Pro Bowl receiver and one of the greatest players in the history of a franchise full of greats.
A seventh round pick who was undersized and undervalued his whole career, no one deserved to succeed more than Driver because no one worked harder. On third down, you knew you could count on Drive to get open and make a play.
At the beginning of the 2012 season, the 13-year veteran out of Alcorn State said he wanted to play two more seasons. It seemed unlikely at the time and appears even less likely today. But if Donald Driver has played his last game in the NFL, and even if he hasn't, I'm sure every Green Bay fan would wish they could offer Driver a message of thanks.
Peter Bukowski lives in New York and has been covering sports since 2007. He is an award-winning television and newspaper reporter. Follow him on Twitter @BukoTime