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(Photos courtesy of New York Giants and Vernon Biever/Green Bay Packers)
Talk of Fame Network
This week on the Talk of Fame Network, two of the NFL's best wide receivers in recent years - former Green Bay Packer Donald Driver and the New York Giants' Victor Cruz - come to visit, and their stories are startling reminders that anything is possible with perseverance and self-belief.
Driver was a 7th-round draft choice of the Green Bay Packers in 1999, the 213th player and 25th receiver taken. That was a continuation of what had already been a long walk toward glory, having for a time lived out of a U-haul trailer as a kid in Houston while stealing cars and selling drugs to help his family survive. Driver openly recalls those days and how he overcame them.
"It's all dreams and hopes until it becomes reality,'' Driver said of his unusual career path. "I was down a road a lot of people don't make it out of. You find a way that's better for you. I found that way.''
That way was catching passes from Brett Favre for 10 years and then Aaron Rodgers until Driver retired after the 2012 season as the Packers' all-time leader in receptions and receiving yardage. He tells our listeners the story of his climb out of that U-haul and out from the shadow of being an afterthought in the 1999 draft to eventually having a street named after him in Green Bay.
"I thought my career was over,'' Driver said of his long wait to be drafted. "I was glad I had my degree in accounting....then the phone rang.''
That Donald Driver answered was a blessing ... for him and the Packers.
Cruz was an undrafted free agent out of the University of Massachusetts who arrived in the Giants' training camp in 2010 with little fanfare. A year later, he exploded on the NFL, gaining 1,536 receiving yards and doing the salsa in the end zone. His career continued to blossom until Oct. 12, 2014, when he tore his patella tendon against the Philadelphia Eagles. Cruz discusses that trial, his rehab and his readiness to return to the top of the NFL receiving list next fall.
Along with those compelling interviews, the Talk of Fame guys conduct the second of their eight-week all-time draft, this time making selections from Hall of Famers and others taken on the seventh round. The way they mock each other's mock drafts is as entertaining as the way each is constructing his team.
Dr. Data, Rick Gosselin, uses his number-crunching research to explain why the Cowboys should let NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray walk in free agency, and Ron Borges presents the Hall of Fame case for a long forgotten pioneer of the game: Duke Slater, the NFL's first African-American lineman.
Ron, Rick and host Clark Judge also battle it out in this week's two-minute drill and in the Borges or Bogus segment, Ron debates one of this off-season's biggest decisions: Should Bill Belichick bet on Darrelle Revis or on his tried-and-true philosophy of frugality in managing the Patriots' salary cap.
You can hear that and more on your local stations, on our website at talkoffamenetwork.com or now on iTunes, where all our shows are archived and available.