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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The heart of the team... It's not who you think!

by Curt Angeli

I've been watching these games, and many of you know that I tend to place a high value on intrinsic values...mental preparedness, winning attitude, playing to win, heart. At least, I probably do so more than others.

Week in, week out, there's a guy that I have decided is the "heart" of this team, because he plays with passion on every play, winning or losing.

No, it's not Brett Favre. He is up there, though...I would tend to call him the "soul" of the team, because I think his quiet leadership still is a central part of this team (20 FHC members just puked upon reading that...).

However, the heart of this team is Donald Driver.

That catch he made over the middle Sunday exemplified what I've been seeing from him all year...an ability to make a tough catch, and not settle for anything the defense tries to limit him to. He fights for yardage on every play, and does it with a consistent intensity that I simply see it as inspirational.

When a little wide receiver wills himself to break out of three tackles, just to gain another seven yards, there is something many other players on this team who go "aw shucks" after missing an interception or a block should be watching closely.

Yes, he tanked some plays, contributed to some interceptions by not being totally in sync with his quarterback, or allowing a ball to tip off his hands. But, when that happens, I see him do two things. He takes it very much to heart. We remember that Donald Driver has publically taken accountability for many of the tips and/or interceptions, and after he dropped the pass (can't remember who it was) on fourth down in the fourth quarter, he was mentally beating himself up for not making that one catch.

The other thing he does is he comes out resolved to make up for any mistake. This isn't the usual, smiling Donald Driver we've become accustomed to in past seasons. This is an intense individual focused on doing everything he can for the team. He has watched the two starters fall on either side of him, and instead of shrinking for the occasion, a la Ferguson, he has raised his game to a new level. One can guess that Antonio Chatman has followed his lead, judging from his stepping up in play, too.

Donald Driver, who at one point was written off as a "nice #3" receiver, is playing every down, often double covered, and making play after play after play. He isn't just trying to be the go-to guy, he's demanding to be that guy. He wants this team to win.

We've all commented how lucky we've been to watch Brett Favre play over the course of his career.

Take some time and enjoy watching Donald Driver this season. He is something special out there.

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