Jimmie Johnson finally took time Sunday night at Homestead to dismiss what was a fairly outrageous, out-of-line claim by ex-Philadelphia Eagles NFL QB Donovan McNabb that Johnson wasn’t an athlete.
“Yes, I am an athlete, and so is every driver in one of these racecars. Even Tony Stewart,” he deadpanned after winning his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
McNabb made the claim on a FOX studio show prior to the weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale and immediately heard from the NASCAR nation on Twitter.
And Sunday night in Homestead provided a perfect response from Johnson and the two closest people around him in his NASCAR career, team boss Rick Hendrick and crew chief Chad Knaus.
Said Hendrick, “I heard McNabb say he wasn’t an athlete. I’d like to see McNabb come run the Boston Marathon with him or swim the lake out here. Guys like that don’t know what they’re talking about. He wouldn’t have been Athlete of the Year if people didn’t know what kind of unbelievable athlete he is.”
Added Knaus, “I owe a lot of my change in attitude to Jimmie because he’s opened my eyes. You have to realize, I’ve lived my whole life in these damn circles. Middle of the racetrack, that’s where I live. You see the circle, put me in the middle of it, that’s where I’ve been for 30 years of my life. Jimmie has made me realize there’s more to it than just that. He’s opened my eyes to a lot of things. I love him like a brother. He’s pretty special to me. He’s a cool dude.”