An adult fan clutching a replica mirror ball trophy found herself on the receiving end of stinging criticism after she grabbed a memento that newly crowned “Dancing With the Stars” champion Donald Driver threw into the stands for a young fan, then bragged about it on Facebook.
Driver, a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, was celebrating the end of his annual charity softball game Sunday by hanging around the team’s Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wis., and signing autographs for some of the nearly 9,000 fans in attendance, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Just before the pro headed into the locker room, he threw one of his cleats into the stands in the direction of a young fan decked out in a Packers jersey. But before the boy, 12-year-old Stephen Wagner, could reach out to grab his idol’s cleat, he was knocked over by a woman holding a replica of the mirror ball trophy Driver took home for his “DWTS” win. The woman reached right over the boy and wrestled with him, eventually grabbing the cleat right out of his hand.
“I was really excited and hoping to catch whatever he would throw,” Stephen said in an interview with “Good Morning America.” “I felt like it was thrown to me, and she didn’t have to do it like that. I think she could have been nicer for that.”
Driver did not seem to be aware of the incident initially, but later seemed none too pleased with the way his catch was received. He took to Facebook and Twitter to try to identify the young fan.
“Had a great time at my charity softball game, but I just saw a truly disturbing video of a grown woman snatching one of my cleats from the boy I threw it to in the stands. I want to get this boy the cleats he deserves! Can you guys help me find out who he is so I can get them to him??? Thank you Packer Nation!,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
“Does anyone know who this boy is? I want to get him the cleats he deserves!” he also tweeted on Sunday night .”
That was all it took for the Journal Sentinel to invest its own investigative resources into the matter. Just hours after Driver’s tweet, Sentinel reporter Tyler Dunne had a reply.
“Just heard from the family again, @Donald_Driver80,” Dunne tweeted on Sunday. “Boy is Stephen Wagner. Have connect here.”
It ended happily for Wagner. Driver presented him with a pair of autographed cleats, along with other Packers memorabilia, Monday.
The boy’s reaction? “Very nice!”
As for the overzealous fan, ESPN identified her as Robyn Ereth. Ereth had actually posted a photo of herself with the cleat, and had written: “Donald is missing a shoe!!!thx Donald!!!!”
She has faced a wave of harsh criticism for her actions, but Driver had kind words for her.
“I think it has to calm down now. I think it worked out better for him. I think he’s happy now. I think people that are tarnishing and embarrassing her, it has to stop. She’s a human being. She made a mistake and I think at the end of the day, Stephen’s happier than anyone else,” he said.
“GMA” reached out to Ereth but she declined to comment.
The Journal Sentinel also reported that Ereth has apologized to Wagner and his family.
“We told her that we didn’t have any bad feelings toward her,” Mary Wagner, Stephen’s mother, told the newspaper. “She offered to send the cleat back. She was wonderful.”