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Donald Driver's Toughness Earns Him Courage Award


While dining at Brett Favre's Steakhouse a few years ago with his wife Betina, Donald Driver noticed No. 4's shiny Ed Block Courage Award that hung in a corner of the restaurant.

"I told my wife, 'One day I would love to win that award,'" Driver said.

Now the Packers' leading wide receiver in 2005 has one to match the durable quarterback who has made 221 consecutive starts.

Driver's teammates chose him as the team's annual Ed Block Courage Award winner. Each NFL team selects one player who best represents courage and sportsmanship while serving as inspiration in their locker rooms.

"It's a great accomplishment," Driver said. "When you think of that award, you think of the courage these guys have displayed over the years, and I'm just happy to receive it."

The award often goes to a player making a comeback from an injury. In Driver's case he did not rebound from an injury but compensated for a wide receiving corps replete with them. Javon Walker (knee), Terrence Murphy (neck/spine) and Robert Ferguson (knee) all finished the year on injured reserve. So Driver stepped up as Favre's go-to receiver. He never missed a game and responded with career highs in catches with 86 and yardage with 1,221.

"I put everything on my shoulders," Driver said. "And I performed week in and week out."

The seven-year veteran also displayed the toughness characterized by the Ed Block Courage Award winners. He went across the middle without abandon, shaking off hits to his body. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 6, Driver went up high to catch a pass, but safety Troy Polamalu launched himself at the receiver, earning a defensive pass interference penalty. Driver landed on his neck but stayed in the game.

Driver offered another example of his high pain threshold 37 seconds into the second quarter of the Packers' Christmas Day game against the Chicago Bears. He hauled in a 13-yard pass from Favre despite receiving a jarring from safety Chris Harris.

"I got up and acted like it didn't hurt," he said. "I know the doctors and trainers were ready to come on the field and get me, but I got up with no problem."

Driver also earned the award for his leadership skills. He guided an inexperienced wide receiver corps, including Antonio Chatman, Andrae Thurman and Rod Gardner. That threesome had a combined four years of experience with the Packers.

The Courage Award is named after Ed Block, the former head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts known for his skill at his profession and humanitarian ways. In 1978 Colts defensive end Joe Ehrmann received the first Courage Award. After the Colts moved from Baltimore in 1984, the award expanded to include one player from every team in the NFL.

Driver will receive his award on March 7 at Martin's West in Baltimore along with the 31 other NFL players who possess similar resiliency to Driver.

"I never gave up," Driver said, "and always had a smile on my face."

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