After two hours of repeat performances, returning contestants and guest singers, "Dancing With the Stars" crowned its Season 14 champion. Donald Driver barreled through with his impressive tribal-tattooed physique and exceptional stage presence to snag the mirror ball trophy from more predictable favorites to win.
It was a well-deserved triumph without the aid of a manufactured romance or exaggerated hip gyrations geared toward the show's cougar crowd. The Packers wide receiver earned his win through weekly improvement, and a knack for effortlessly lifting his partner Peta Murgatroyd.
Murgatroyd, was an underdog, voted off in the first episode of last season's "DWTS," but received a standing ovation for her first performance with Driver. The long-limbed Aussie found the perfect partner to showcase her impressive routines, flexible form, and zeal for difficult lifts. Even a bloody mouth didn't deter the consummate professional from riding Driver all around the stage for their finale freestyle performance to Cowboy Troy's "I Play Chicken with the Train."
Latin, hip-gyrating wizard William Levy came in third place but received judge Bruno Tonioli's "hottest package of the season" nod. Classical singer Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas were arguably the judges' favorites, with Len Goodman calling them "the complete package," but placed second. The winning couple's finesse, muscle tone, flexibility, and bloody accidents all paid off.
"Extra" host Maria Menounos and her partner Derek Hough returned for a steamy tango that reminded many viewers why everyone was betting on them to win the mirror ball up until their elimination before the finale. Menounos had a rough "DWTS" ride that began in week two with two broken ribs and stress fractures in her feet, continued with a face plant into a dance studio floor and somehow culminated in remarkable performances week after week.
Another notable return to the stage was Disney star Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower. Fegan finally showcased his dance strengths in modern and hip-hop styles and gave a fun, energetic performance that suited him more than the stiff ballroom techniques he eventually got the hang of over the passing weeks.
Tears and Joy
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Gladys Knight (a Motown legend voted off during Motown week) returned for a light-hearted shimmy across the dance floor with Tristan MacManus. More impressive was Knight's vocal rendition of "Memories" which left Jenkins and Ballas crying and spreading tears to several audience members, including Menounos and Melissa Gilbert.
Sherri Shepherd also dropped in to spread some of her infectious, effervescent cheer and perform a male-dominated dance to "It's Raining Men." Jaleel White tried surrounding himself with ladies for a "Shaft" revival, but he failed to execute a lift with Kym Johnson. The pressure was off for these returning contestants not facing the judges' wrath, but it was one of many ways to reminisce over a season which boasted many of the judges' expressed favorite moments, contestants, dances, and techniques.
The judges summed up Season 14 by calling Levy a "phenomenon," Jenkins "one of the most technically advanced dancers," and Driver a "gladiator coming out to do battle." "DWTS" Season 14 saw the NFL gladiator become the victor.
More from this Contributor'Hysteria': Quacks Battle Female Sexuality Behind Rom-Com Façade