Driver, Gado, Collins, Lazzaro, and Minister of Defense Honored in Green Bay

It was Monday night in July, but Green Bay was ready for some football. In actuality, the crowd of 1,000-plus attending Lambeau Field Atrium festivities this game were in attendance to see the game in clips only, but oh what clips!

Monday marked the annual Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. At center was the merest formality seen in years at this celebration, the entrance of Reggie “The Minister of Defense” White into cheesehead immortality. Edgar Bennett (Green Bay’s current running backs coach), Gilbert Brown, LeRoy Butler, Santana Dotson, Antonio Freeman, William Henderson (currently going into his twelve year as a Packer RB), Sean Jones and Frank Winters all spoke on White’s greatness, each telling stories of greatness they’d witnessed from White.

Retired WR Keith Jackson, White’s teammate in Green Bay and Philadelphia formally accepted the induction on behalf of White, stating that “You knew if you needed the game closed out, he was going to close it out and get the sack on the quarterback.” Before stepping off, Jackson got the Wisconsin faithful to chant “Reg-gie!” in a sort of flipside to the moment of silence.

White became known as perhaps the greatest DE ever in a his seventeen-year career, including six with Green Bay; he holds the all-time record in sacks for the Pack, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Memphis Showboats. He was twice defensive player of the year, thirteen times an all-pro, thirteen times an all-star and was named to the NFL’s 75th anniversary team. Upon retirement, White had tallied 198 sacks (221.5 including USFL stats), then the NFL career record.

Also honored was a trio of current Packers who were given awards for excellence in 2005. Donald Driver was named MVP for a season in which the WR was truly one of the sole bright spots in the Pack’s 4-12 nightmare. Driver dominating receiving statistics in Green Bay, nabbing 86 passes for 1221 yards, making him the only Packer to top 700 total yards. His reception total was one greater than the total number of receptions for all Green Bay TEs combined, and represented just under half of all Packer WR catches. Driver accounted for just under one-third of Brett Favre’s completions.

Named rookies of the year were Samkon “Oh My” Gado and Nick Collins. Gado was one of the few beneficiaries of the Packers’ Poseidon adventure of 2005. Gado went undrafted out of division 1-AA Liberty College, signed on with the Chiefs, was cut, and managed to stick with the Green Bay practice squad for the 2005 season. When Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport were knocked out for the year with injuries, Gado was pressed into the starting role. Gado ended up appearing in eight games, ran up 4.1 yards per carry, amassed 659 total yards, and led the team with seven TDs. Gado is figured by some to challenge Green this year for playing time.

Like Gado, defensive rookie of the year Nick Collins came out of division 1-AA, having played three positions for the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats. Unlike Gado, Collins was a heralded draft pick, going to Green Bay in round two. The QB/RB/DB was set firmly at defensive back and did not disappointed, recording 84 tackles (63 solo) and seven passes defended. Week seven against the Minnesota Vikings saw Collins score eleven tackles; and in week fifteen against the Baltimore Ravens, he got twelve including an incredible eleven solo.

Last but not least was Kathy Lazzaro. Lazzaro got herself quite an honor when she was elected to the Green Bay Packers FAN Hall of Fame. Sixty-year-old Lazzaro is a resident of Milwaukee and has caught every Packer game since 1960 when she moved to Brewtown. Lazzaro was in attendance at Super Bowl I with her son and did not even miss a home game in 2001 when her husband passed away. “She knew that he would have wanted her at the games, since that was her second lover after her husband,” read one line in the letter nominating Lazzaro for the honor.

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