Former QB Says Johnson Not An Athlete

Donovan McNabb

Donovan McNabb, with Jeff Gordon a few years ago, said that Jimmie Johnson is not an athlete because he "sits in a car.'' (Photo: Getty Images)

Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb said that Jimmie Johnson is not an athlete Friday night on “Fox Sports Live.’’ The comment came after McNabb and others were asked to rank some of sport’s most dominant athletes. Johnson, who could clinch his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup title Sunday, was among the candidates.

“Do I think he’s an athlete?’’ said McNabb, a six-time Pro Bowl quarterback who lost in his only Super Bowl appearance. “Absolutely not.’’

Questioned about that comment by host Charissa Thompson, McNabb responded: “He’s not (an athlete). He sits in a car and drives. That’s not athletic.’’

Former tennis star Andy Roddick defended Johnson, saying: “I think it’s disrespectful to say he’s not an athlete.’’

Johnson has competed multiple triathlons. He runs, swims and bikes as part of his conditioning to race.

“I think that it, obviously makes his endurance a lot better throughout the course of these races,’‘ crew chief Chad Knaus recently said about Johnson’s workout program. “I think it makes him more alert and better come the end of the events when other drivers are maybe more tired. I think it also has provided a significant outlet for him to where he can go, train, get away from the racing environment and enjoy it.

McNabb’s comment drew quick response on Twitter from NASCAR fans and competitors.

Johnson wrote on Twitter: "The debate continues ... Everyone is entitled to an opinion. #DrversAreAthletes.''

Jeff Burton had a suggestion, writing on Twitter: "We need a Cup owner to provide a current car, go to Bristol, put McNabb in for 500 laps by himself. Then ask if drivers are athletes. I understand why people watch and it doesn't look athletic. The only way to prove it is to put people in 'real' cars and let them learn.''

Jeff Gordon tweeted: "20+ yr debate. @NASCAR driver athlete? Never met a 'athlete' who actually drove a racecar that doubted it. Care to take a ride Donovan?''

Kyle Larson tweeted: “Donovan McNabb must be mad he never won a championship and Jimmie just keeps winning them over and over again.’’

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wrote on Twitter: “Wow @donovanjmcnabb really? Got to b an idiot. I'd like to see him keep up with @JimmieJohnson in a workout. And drive our cars for 500 miles.’’

DeLana Harvick, wife of Kevin Harvick, also responded, stating on Twitter: “Hearing people "discuss" our sport who have no freakin clue what they're talking about is awesome...''

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