The age-old debate of whether racecar drivers are athletes or not was rekindled Friday night following comments made by Donovan McNabb on "Fox Sports Live."
The former NFL quarterback was on a panel and asked to rank the most dominating athletes of the past decade. McNabb ranked Johnson third behind Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant, but remarked he didn't think Johnson was an athlete.
"Do I think he is an athlete? Absolutely not," McNabb said.
When asked to clarify his stance by host Charissa Thompson, McNabb expounded upon his remark.
"He sits in a car and he drives," McNabb said. "That doesn't make you athletic ... What athletically is he doing?"
Almost instantly a backlash against McNabb ignited on Twitter. At one point Friday night, the hashtag #PeopleWhoAreMoreAthleticThanDonovanMcNabb was the No. 1 trending topic within the U.S. Both NASCAR fans and Johnson's competitors came to his defense.
20+ yr debate. @NASCAR driver athlete? Never met a "athlete" who actually drove a racecar that doubted it. Care to take a ride Donovan?— Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) November 16, 2013
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 Burton (@JeffBurton) November 16, 2013
A devout fitness buff who runs 20 miles and has completed a triathlon, Johnson told USA Today Friday he is training for the Boston Marathon and has run "30 to 40 miles a week for the past few months."
Johnson himself took the high the road on Twitter.
The debate continues... Everyone is entitled to an opinion. #DriversAreAthletes— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) November 16, 2013