By Adam Maher
I get promotional emails inviting my presence for sports celebrity-endorsed product launches all the time, but from book signings to wine send-offs, I usually ask for a sample or signed book in the mail and never show up. It's cool that I get invited to these events, but most of the time the product launches are for things that I'm not interested in -- or more importantly, there's no opportunity to make money for me.
I've probably ignored 15-20 of these types of emails in the past. Until last week when I was asked to spend time with Green Bay Packers, future NFL Hall of Famer, Dancing with the Stars champion, one of my favorite wide receivers of all time, Donald Driver, to help him promote the launch of his new Wagner Flexio paint spray gun.
Yes. I know. This is probably the most random shit ever, which is why it's so amazing.
It all went down this morning on the 7th floor of the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) in Columbus Circle, and I've got to say, it was a blast. The highlight of my day was when Donald and I raced to see if I could paint an entire wall faster with the Flexio spray gun than he could paint a wall half the size of my wall with a regular paint roller -- I took the liberty to hush the crowd and paint Donald's #80 with the gun right before the race began. Needless to say, Donald liked what he saw:
After the paint-off, I had a chance to ask Donald a few questions. Nothing heavy, just some good old fashioned sportzbroz stuff.
ME: Who is a better QB, Aaron Rodgers or Brett Favre?
DONALD: Whoooo! Tough question. But I'm gunna have to go with Brett Favre.
ME: Besides you, who are the best five wide receivers of all time?
DONALD: Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Lynn Swann, Sterling Sharpe.
ME: That's five --
DONALD: -- Oh, shit.
ME: You could say a couple more if you want.
DONALD: There's a whole list of them, but I'll end it with Don Hutson.
ME: Who is the best wide receiver in today's game?
DONALD: I would have to say Calvin Johnson.
ME: If you could, would you coach in the NFL?
ME: Talk about the Donald Driver Foundation.
DONALD: We started back in 2000. What we did is help families transition from homeless shelters to apartments or houses. We currently have 75 families that we have already transitioned. We also have a scholarship program that gives a $1,000 scholarship to any kid that's going to a two or four year college. And we also have a computer scholarship that's also given to one of our kids that's coming from a homeless shelter. Last but not least is what we call Blessing with a Backpack. We use funding to feed kids on federal lunch on weekends. It's only $80 to feed a child for an entire school year. So we feed over 3,000 kids throughout Wisconsin, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana.
ME: How did winning Dancing with the Stars compare to winning the Super Bowl?
DONALD: It felt the same. They put so much into Dancing with the Stars, and they put so much into the Super Bowl -- and you got 35 million people watching you every Monday night. Both were truly a blessing.
ME: Have you ever got a challenging phone call from Hines Ward (the only other NFL wide receiver to win a Super Bowl and win a season of Dancing with the Stars)?
DONALD: No I haven't gotten a challenge from Hines --
ME: -- Maybe you and Hines can have a dance-off at half time at the Super Bowl one year?
DONALD: Hines versus Donald? That'd be a good show. Maybe if the Packers play the Steelers in the Super Bowl we'll have to do it.
Many thanks to Donald and Ketchum Sports for inviting me to come see the Flexio! It was an absolute pleasure and honor.