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Donald Driver will retire from Green Bay Packers

Donald Driver started his NFL career with the Green Bay Packers as a seventh-round draft pick who battled to make the roster, then barely saw the field. He finishes his career as the storied franchise's all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards.

The Packersannounced Driver's retirement Thursday morning via a press release. The team will hold an official ceremony Feb. 6 at Lambeau Field.

Driver had 37 receptions through the first three seasons of his career, but he emerged as one of Brett Favre's favorite targets during the 1990s, and then provided a bridge to the Aaron Rodgers era. Driver ranks second in Packers history in games played (205), behind only Favre.

"I think the biggest thing is walking out of that tunnel at Lambeau ... and that's something I'll never forget," Driver told ESPN's "Mike and Mike" on Thursday morning.

Asked if he would consider returning, Driver said: "I'm not coming back. I'm at peace."

A three-time Pro Bowl player, Driver recorded seven 1,000-yard seasons at wide receiver. He wasn't the fastest or biggest receiver on the field, but he was one of the most durable and best with the ball in the air. Seemingly every year, some expected Driver's incredible rise to prominence would fall off. And every year, he'd put up another 1,000 yards through terrific route-running, strong work ethic and great hands.

Driver finishes as the Packers' all-time leader in receiving yards (10,137 yards) and catches (743). He is third behind Don Hutson and Sterling Sharpe with 61 touchdown receptions.

"It hasn't really hit me at this moment," Driver said to ESPN. "I think it's really gonna hit me on Feb. 6 when I have my entire family there."

Driver, 37, was not a huge factor this season for the Packers. He said Thursday morning that he is "at peace" with the decision.

Driver's popularity extended beyond football and into entertainment, as he won last season's "Dancing with the Stars." The timing of the move will give Driver a deserved moment in the spotlight this week and next in Green Bay, when he officially announces his retirement in front of his family and fans. It's appropriate that one of the most popular players of his era will get an official send-off at a stadium where he made so many memorable plays.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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