After a breakout season that landed him in the Pro Bowl, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver was honored with the professional achievement award at the sixth-annual Lee Remmel Sports Awards Banquet at the Swan Club in De Pere, Wis., Thursday night.
Driver joined current and former Packers Ryan Longwell, Ahman Green, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Vonnie Holliday and Bill Schroeder as the sixth recipient of the professional achievement award.
"What an honor it is to get this award," a proud Driver told the audience. "The press was asking me earlier, 'Donald, how do you feel?' And I told them words can't even explain how you feel to get an award (like this)."
Presenting the award to Driver was Packers receivers coach Ray Sherman, who called Driver an "enjoyment" to coach.
"I think one of the things that really stands out about Donald is his worth ethic," Sherman said. "I had the opportunity to coach one of the best receivers in the league, and that's Jerry Rice. Donald Driver exudes the same type of work ethic.
"He's a guy that comes to work every day with a smile on his face. He'll do everything possible to be the best he can be. He's a joy for me."
In 2002, Driver evolved from a third-down receiver and special-teams player to being Brett Favre's go-to receiver.
In his fourth season as a pro and first as a starter, Driver established career marks, leading the Packers with 70 receptions for 1,064 yards. His nine touchdown receptions ranked second in the NFC.
If Driver's success was a huge surprise to some, it was less so for Sherman, who recognized Driver's athletic ability years ago -- on the basketball court.
"I just got through working out and I was walking through the gym, this was in our old facility," Sherman remembered for the audience. "Donald was in there playing basketball with some of the other players and some of the scouts. (Former Packers player and current scout) Lenny McGill was guarding him and Lenny's about 6-foot-2.
"They were kind of jawing back and forth and -- this is the honest to God's truth -- Donald took a couple of dribbles and jumped over (McGill) and dunked the basketball ... That showed me the type of athletic ability that this young man has."
In addition to his athletic skills, Driver was also praised for his outstanding community involvement, including the Donald Driver Foundation, which offers assistance to children with unmanageable hospital bills and provides housing to the homeless, among other charitable donations.
So involved is Driver in the community that he was worried a pair of autograph signings in Madison earlier Thursday would keep him from attending the Remmel banquet.
Joked Driver about his busy schedule: "I said to myself, can I make it back (for the banquet)? And if I don't make it back, will Lee give my award to someone else?"
Currently the team's executive director of public relations, Remmel is in his 29th year with the Packers organization. He spent the previous 29 years as a sports reporter covering the team.
Sponsored by the De Pere and Green Bay West Rotary Clubs, Remmel's five previous banquets generated more than $80,000 in scholarships to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, St. Norbert College and area high schools on behalf of the Rotary Clubs' scholarship funds.
"(Remmel) is a true legend with the Green Bay Packers," Driver said.
Other awards recipients Thursday were University of Wisconsin athletics director Pat Richter (Distinguished Service Award), University of Wisconsin-Green Bay women's basketball head coach Kevin Borseth (Superior Achievement), Appleton West High School basketball player Brian Butch (High School Achievement) and University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh basketball player Tim Dworak (College Achievement).