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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Donald Driver & Peta - They're in the Final!



Great interview with Donald Driver thanks to Kendra Meinert of the Green Bay Press Gazette! Link to their site follows. Come on Packer Nation Donald and Peta need your votes this week to take that Mirror Ball back to Green Bay!

Forget about that elusive 10 from stubborn judge Len Goodman.
Donald Driver has.
He’s moved on to loftier goals.
The Green Bay Packers all-time leading receiver isn’t just setting his sights on winning the Mirror Ball Trophy on Tuesday night’s “Dancing With the Stars’’ finale, he wants to make voting history.
In an exclusive interview with the Green Bay Press-Gazette on Friday, Driver said he’s looking for such an outpouring of votes from Packer Nation during Monday’s show that it sets a record for most votes ever in the 14-year history of “DWTS.’’ And he wouldn’t mind making all those Pittsburgh Steelers fans who propelled former wide receiver Hines Ward to ballroom glory in Season 12 pale by comparison, either. “Three years ago, the Steeler Nation carried Hines Ward to the Mirror Ball. What I need is the same thing – but more. I need Packer Nation to carry me through the Mirror Ball and then also blow Steeler Nation out the window,’’ Driver said by phone from Los Angeles during an early morning interview before his eight to nine hours of rehearsals with partner Peta Murgatroyd. “We beat ’em in the Super Bowl, why not beat ’em in ‘Dancing With the Stars’?’’ After nine weeks of competition, it’s down to Driver & Murgatroyd, William Levy & Cheryl Burke and Katherine Jenkins & Mark Ballas for ballroom bragging rights. In what has been widely regarded as the most competitive season ever of the ABC competition, fan votes likely will be more crucial than judges’ scores in determining who gets to hoist the championship Mirror Ball Trophy. “We want to make sure we beat Steeler Nation. I think that will push Packers fans to do it. Hines won it with ease, and I think that’s we have to do,’’ Driver said. “William Levy is going to have a big crowd with the Latin community… I’m hoping we can take it and set a record for the most votes ever on ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ We need to make history.’’ In anticipation of his final dances, Driver talked about why he wants to win for his partner, why his fellow dancers all want to take his kids home with them, his likability factor with viewers and why he’s looking forward to getting home to Green Bay.
You always say you’re not nervous and you never look it. But given how tight Monday’s finals are, aren’t you just the least bit?

I’m never nervous. I’ve always felt like my nervous part is throughout the week. Wednesday through Sunday I’m probably the most nervous person out there. But then Monday comes, the lights come on and the cameras, and I’m fine. I just know now I can’t control it. I’ve just got to go out there and have fun. I know if I do that I can’t look back and go, “Well, I wish I could fix this, I wish I could fix that.’’ I think Peta knows that about me. In dress rehearsal and camera block, I can mess up five, six times and be off timing, but she knows, for whatever reason, that I’m very, very focused come Monday once we go live.
What do you see as the advantage you and Peta have over the other two couples?
I think what me and Peta have, and I think it’s been focused on all the way throughout this competition, is the chemistry we have. So many people have said to us, “You guys seem like you’re having so much fun. You guys have that great chemistry.’’ … I think that’s where we stand against everyone else. We’re never arguing with each other. We’re talking through the dance. She’s listening to my input, and I’m also listening to her input to make sure that I nail the routine. So that at the end of the day, we can’t worry about the person next to us or we can’t worry about the crowd. All we can worry about is each other.
Not expecting you to spill many details here, but any hints at all about what we can expect from your much-anticipated freestyle dance?
I will say this: It’s totally different than what someone would expect. Most people expect me to come out and probably do hip-hop or something normal. It’s going to be completely different than what people expect me to have.
You’ve said you want to win the Mirror Ball for Peta, because it’s like her Super Bowl, but how much do you want it as well?
I’m very competitive. I’ve been competitive all my life, and I’m going to continue to be that way until I’m gone. I think, for me, to have that trophy and to be a part of something so special, it makes you want it more. When I first came into this competition, I told Peta my goal, first of all, was not to be voted off first. And then as the weeks went on, I told Peta that we have a chance to win this, so let’s win it now. I told her … “This is your show. I’m just a part of it.’’ She’s like, “No, no, it’s you.’’ No. We’re riding a rollercoaster right now, and I’m going to get off that rollercoaster, and I’m going to take my Mirror Ball and I’m going back to Green Bay, Wis. You’re going to continue to ride that rollercoaster with the next person, and if you continue to ride that rollercoaster and be on top, then no one can ever take that away from you. When we won the Super Bowl, nobody could ever take that from me. I have that ring now. I have the hardware to prove it, and I’m a Super Bowl champion. That’s always going to be on my resume. You win “Dancing With the Stars’’ and it will always be on your resume. The good part about it is that will always be on my resume. too: Super Bowl champion and “Dancing With the Stars’’ champion. And that’s not a bad thing to have.
If you win the Mirror Ball but still don’t get a 10 from Len Goodman, will you be disappointed?
I have gotten to the point where I can’t worry about Len. I can’t worry about the judges anymore. It was a proven fact last week that you can have a 30 and still go home. That’s what happened to Maria (Menounos). For me, I need to go out there and dance my best, hoping I can dance the dance so well that the millions and millions and millions of Packers fans and “Dancing With the Stars’’ fans and everybody that’s just a fan of mine will vote me to win the Mirror Ball. Then I can always look at the judges down the road and say, “Len, why did you never give me that 10?’’ But I have the Mirror Ball to prove I am the champion. So sometimes the score doesn’t really matter, it’s what matters with fans.
A prominent “DWTS’’ blogger referred to you as quite possibly the most likable person to ever be on the show. How do you feel about that?
Wow. That makes me feel special, because … Oh wow. It makes me feel amazing, because I treat people like I want to be treated. I never treat people like I am the celebrity and you work for me. People on “Dancing With the Stars’’ have said, “Donald you just treat people so nice.’’
Well, I’m no better than you. I’m no better than the man that opens the door at a hotel. I’m no better than a janitor at a school. Because my mom did all that. If you see your mom out there and she’s working in the hotel and she’s cleaning bathrooms and she’s the maid, it makes you appreciate life so much more, because you don’t have to treat that person like that person is the maid. You treat that person like that is a true human being. I think that’s where I stand.
Much has been made about William Levy’s sexiness and how it’s his secret weapon. But you’re not exactly a slouch in that department, either.
I think people look at me and think I may be a sexy guy, I may have all the tools to it, but what I think people also look at is I’m also married. People respect that I’m married, so they don’t scream and yell, “Oh, I love you, Donald!’’ … Now William, on the other hand, he’s single – he has a girlfriend, a fianceĆ© – but he’s still single. So, of course, people can see that in a different way. … People love William Levy. The women are going nuts every time he walks on the floor. They just start screaming. I know if they’re doing it on the show, believe me, they’re doing it at home as well. That’s his leverage on this show. He has the ability to be that person for the women.
Speaking of women, it seems what they most often want to know is how your wife handles all that sexiness with Peta on the dance floor.
She is very cool about it. I have embraced the moment of not embarrassing and disrespecting my wife. So I’ve always asked Betina what does she think about this. Come to the show and watch me rehearse. She’s done that. She feels comfortable being at rehearsal and watching what I’m going to do. She critiques me from the beginning of the rehearsal to the end of the rehearsal and even when we get back home. “Baby, that’s not sexy enough. It has to be this way. I think you should do it that way. Or baby, that’s not emotional. You’ve got to show your face more.’’ She’s always my biggest critic, and that helps me, because I know if my wife is OK with it … then I can just go out there and perform and not worry about trying to hold back anything.
Two of your kids, Christian and Christina, have become regulars on “DWTS.’’ How often are people telling you how adorable they are?
Oh, I hear it all day, every day. It’s just so crazy what my kids have instilled in other people, (which is) a respect level. … Maria, Karina (Smirnoff), Katherine, Peta, all the women always ask, “Oh my God, can I just take your kids home? They’re so respectful. I just want to bundle them up and keep them.’’ And you go, “Oh yeah, go ahead, take them home for an hour and you’ll bring them back.’’ (Laughs.) It’s all about respect. They have to respect the adults. They have to say, “Yes, mam. Yes, sir. No, mam. No, sir.’’
That has to make you a proud dad.
I know I’ve done my job, and I’m going to have to continue doing my job until I’m dead and gone. Even when they get into their 20s and 30s and start having their own kids, then the dad turns into the grandfather and still says, “Hey, you can’t say that.’’
What has surprised you most about your “DWTS’’ experience?
I think the biggest thing for me has been the atmosphere around Hollywood. I’ve always come into L.A. to either play a game or just visit a friend and then turn around and leave, so to be here as long as we’ve been here -- almost three months -- this is totally different. I can’t wait to get back to Green Bay. It’s just so down to earth. You see people, you laugh, you joke, you go to the grocery store and they talk to you every day. Here, it’s more Hollywood. You have paparazzi. You have people jumping out at you taking pictures of you when you don’t want to. It’s just crazy, crazy, crazy. I think that’s the biggest thing that surprised me, because I’ve heard about Hollywood, but now I really get the experience. … It’s more than we expected, but I think we need to stay in our own little cocoon.
What have you learned about yourself through this process?
I’d say the thing I’ve learned about myself is I really can dance. I think, at first, I was like, I can go to a party and I can hold my own but … To transition from a straight football player that had never taken dance before, to become -- I don’t want to say a great ballroom dancer at this point, because there’s more that you can learn -- but I became a good ballroom dancer. … That’s very tough, because my wife is like, “You’re gooood.’’ So that puts a smile on my face, knowing I made her happy as well.
If you win the Mirror Ball Trophy, will you be back in Green Bay with it?
When I win this Mirror Ball, I’m going to bring the Mirror Ball back to Green Bay. The show’s over Tuesday. I’ll be back in Green Bay probably Wednesday or Thursday, and I’ll bring the trophy. I’m thinking we may end up doing something so we can celebrate with the fans, just like when we won the Vince Lombardi Trophy. I think it’s something I can’t win alone. I couldn’t win the Vince Lombardi Trophy alone. It takes a team to win that. It also took Packer Nation to support us through the season. This is the same thing. The “Dancing With the Stars’’ trophy, I could not do this alone, because I need the fans to make sure I win it. So once I win that, I want to celebrate it with them. I want to bring it wherever we need to have it, if that’s at the (Lambeau Field) Atrium or at the stadium or wherever we have to go -- even if we have to go to the parking lot. I want fans to experience it. I want fans to see it. I want people to take pictures with it, because I didn’t do it alone. We all need to celebrate the moment, because this is truly something that I don’t think Packer Nation as well as myself will ever forget. To be the first Packer player to do “Dancing With the Stars,’’ that’s big. If I can celebrate with them, then that’s how we’re going to celebrate it.
You caused a lot of speculation amongst sports reporters last week over your “I’m a Packer for life’’ tweet. Care to shed any light on that?
I think so many people right now are worried if I’m going to be a Packer. I’m still under contract. My contract is not over with the Packers. I will be a Packer for life. I don’t think that’s ever going to change. I think that’s what I want the fans to understand. Don’t worry. If you haven’t heard it from me or you haven’t heard it from the Packers, you can’t listen to the reporters, the media. You can’t listen to them. You have to trust me, and you also have to trust the Packers that I will be a Packer for life. They have given me the opportunity for the last 14 years, I don’t think it’s going to change now. We’re here forever.
Before hanging up, Driver wanted to add one last thing …
“Make sure you put at the bottom of that article that Donald Driver said he loves everyone. I think everyone knows that.’’
http://greenbayhub.greenbaypressgazette.com/article/20120520/GPG0505/120518124/-1/GPG050501/Donald-Driver-calls-Packer-Nation-make-Dancing-history


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