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Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Catastrophe avoided in Driver shoe incident

By Matt Lindner
Special to ESPN.com

Stephen Wagner prides himself on having good hands, just like Donald Driver, the star Packers wide receiver whose job he someday wants to have.

Which is why, when the 12-year-old Wagner caught a cleat thrown into the stands by Driver after a Sunday charity softball game in Grand Chute, Wis., he was surprised to have it snatched from his grasp by Robyn Ereth, woman standing nearby.

Donald Driver
Stephen Wagner got to hang out with Donald Driver a day after the Packers star's cleat was wrestled away from him at a softball game.
“I got my hands over it and [Ereth] took it away from me and kind of walked away,” Wagner told ESPN Playbook. “She kind of just said 'That’s mine.’”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel captured footage of Ereth wrestling Driver’s shoe away from Wagner, and the video quickly went viral.

Lorna Plamann, a friend of Ereth who can be seen in the video wearing a white No. 80 Driver jersey, told Playbook she was unaware of what was happening at the time and hadn't seen the video.

“I thought [Ereth] honestly caught the shoe herself,” Plamann said. “I do feel bad about what happened, but I did not see her actually take the shoe from him."

Plamann insists Ereth isn’t the kind of person who goes around snatching shoes out of children’s hands.

“She is a good person and she’s a good friend of mine,” Plamann said. “We have gone to this softball game since [Brett Favre] was with [the Packers] and nothing like this has happened.”

Wagner, of Ripon, Wis., said he wasn’t hurt in the incident and doesn’t have any hard feelings toward Ereth.

“I was just pretty bummed out that I didn’t get the cleat,” he said.

However, Driver decided he wasn’t going to let Wagner be bummed out. On Monday afternoon, he arranged to meet Wagner at Fox Cities Stadium, where the charity game had taken place. The 13-year NFL veteran spent several minutes on the field chatting with the youngster and presented him with autographed memorabilia, including a pair of cleats, a jersey and books. Driver and Wagner appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Tuesday.

“I thought that he was really nice,” Wagner said. “A lot of people wouldn’t care who gets their cleat but he really tried to track me down, so that was really nice. Most pros wouldn’t do that. We just talked and he gave me my stuff and I said thanks. We had a picture together.”

Robyn Ereth deftly juggles a replica "Dancing with the Stars" trophy while snatching Donald Driver's cleat away from 12-year-old Stephen Wagner.
Meantime, Driver asked his fans to take it easy on Ereth, who was subjected to a torrent of abuse on the Internet and social media.

"Packer Nation, let's remember that the woman who grabbed the shoe is human," Driver posted on his Facebook page. "We all make mistakes. Stephen is happy and that is what's most important! God Bless!"

Ereth didn’t respond to Playbook's requests for comment, but she did apologize publicly in an interview with the Appleton Post-Crescent and later called the Wagner family to apologize.

Wagner said Ereth offered to give him the shoe back, but he felt she deserved to keep it after being subjected to so much negative publicity.

“She didn’t know it was coming to me,” Wagner said. “I just feel sorry that she’s having a lot of mean things said to her.”

• Also see: Packers fan ripped for taking shoe from kid