There is only one thing that everyone wants when they’re watching a Dancing With the Stars freestyle: Great big goosebumps. And on Monday night, the only star who goosed everybody in the ballroom was the Green Bay Packers’ Donald Driver.
Yes, Latin heartthrob William Levy invited everyone to his sexy, energetic salsa and Argentine tango bash. And opera singer Katherine Jenkins, who warbled her own intro, did everything but hang from the ceiling to dazzle the crowd with her combo jive, quick step and lindy hop. But it was the cheesehead wide receiver and his pro, Peta Murgatroyd, who shook the walls with a country hoedown filled with fast, furious and dangerous lifts. “I think the producers strategically put us [at the end of the show],” says Murgatroyd, “because they knew it was going to be a hit.”
Driver, a longtime fan of the show, knew that freestyle was the only thing that could put him safely into the end zone ahead of Levy and Jenkins. “Peta told me this week that she was gonna throw everything at me,” says Driver. “And she had some lifts in there that made me say, ‘Maybe not.’ But in the end, we had to leave it all out on the floor.”
“And especially after we got that ‘nine,’” says Murgatroyd, referring to the score head judge Len Goodman gave their first dance, an Argentine tango. “I was infuriated. So I came out and said [to Driver]: ‘This is it, buddy.’”
It was pro Karina Smirnoff who came up with the country tune by Cowboy Troy. “She knew I wanted to do something country, with a bit of hip-hop,” says Murgatroyd. Adds Driver, “And at the end of the song, it says, ‘Get you some of that!’ So when we finished the dance, I started screaming, ‘Get you some of that!’ And then I said, ‘Give us the ball! Give us the mirror ball!’ And Len finally gave me a 10.’”
For Driver, that 10 is a victory in itself. “Week in, week out, [Len's] going to critique me,” says Driver, who had just about given up hoping for a perfect score from the head judge. “He may even critique me on the football field: ‘You should ran that route a little better.’ But I’m okay with it.”
Will they go home victorious? Driver is optimistic. “Millions of fans at home must have [seen the freestyle tonight and] said, ‘They’ve gotta be the craziest couple in the world, but they nailed the freestyle.’ If freestyle wins it, it should be our mirror ball.”