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When Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd claimed their mirrorball trophies at the end of Tuesday’s Dancing With the Stars finale, they also notched another win for what’s become the series’ most successful group of competitors: NFL players.
Driver, a 37-year-old wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, joins now-retired football players Emmitt Smith and Hines Ward as famous league members who locked down a Dancing With the Stars title.
“It took me 13 years to win the Super Bowl,” Driver said, laughing, on the ballroom floor after the cameras stopped rolling. “I’m just glad it took me one season to win the mirrorball.”
An outspoken fan of the show, he noted that his experience wasn’t exactly how he imagined it.
“It was more than what I expected,” he said. “I’ve been watching this show for a long time, and now I know what J.R. [Martinez] felt last year, what Hines felt, what Emmitt felt.”
As for the game he loves, Driver, still active on the roster, resumes training shortly after the winner’s publicity tour — and he thinks his time on the show should help him keep up with his younger teammates.
“You get to a point where you’re so comfortable, you don’t do those things anymore” he said of his improved flexibility, stretching techniques and ability to jump. “She’s made me feel like a twenty-something, and I’m going back to play football.”
The “she” he referred to, of course, was Murgatroyd, a second year pro who was famously ditched in her first results episode after being saddled with an unmotivated Ron “Metta World Peace” Artest. She was largely speechless after their win, though she mentioned she’d be enjoying a drink during the night’s flight to New York.
“I don’t think she really knows that she is the champion,” said Driver, speaking from experience and giving his partner a squeeze, “and that no one can take that from her.”
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