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Donovan McNabb Pissed Off Every Race Fan In America When He Said Jimmie Johnson Wasn’t An Athlete

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines an “athlete” as “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.” By those standards, competitive projectile vomitting could make you an athlete. Running in place could make you an athlete. Hell, writing could make you an athlete if you were physically proficient enough to type really fast for long periods of time. But NASCAR drivers are in good shape — and racing is thoroughly exhausting by any objective measure. As Ricky Steinhouse Jr. tweeted in response to McNabb’s comments, “Wow @donovanjmcnabb really? Got to b an idiot. I’d like to see him keep up with @JimmieJohnson in a workout.”

So what’s the answer to this age old question?

Well, NASCAR drivers are athletes — because the definition of “athlete” isn’t inherently limited to ball and/or stick sports. Though it may be a semantic argument, driving a car for 500 miles at 200 MPH is exhausting/grueling/physically taxing, and requires a great degree of vision and agility.

What McNabb could be getting at, is the notion that the car is doing most of the work, and in doing so, the driver is doing relatively little work sitting in it.

But that’s like saying the football is doing all the flying through the air, so football players aren’t athletes because they just wait for it to land. It’s not a fair assessment of the athletic valor of a sport, or it’s participants, to measure their involvement vis-a-vis the function of the instruments of the game. What would hockey be without skates? What would golf be without club technology? The fact of the matter is that all athletes ever really do is master/tame/control the various components of their specific sport.

Whether that’s mastering skating.

Taming a horse for a lap around a track.

Or controlling a bicycle for the Tour de France.

If Donovan McNabb doesn’t like the literal definition of “athlete,” he should take it up with the Merriam-Webster. We think what he meant, was that Jimmie Johnson isn’t the type of athlete he respects — which is an ignorant position given that McNabb has never raced competitively. Until that happens, he won’t be able to imagine racing NASCAR as anything different than a car trip to the Grand Canyon.

Certainly, some sports are more taxing than other, and some sports require more stamina and physical strength than others, but that shouldn’t prevent someone from being deemed an athlete just because their sport isn’t the most grueling. If that were the case, the only athletes would be triathlon runners. Ironically, athletics are not a competition.


  • rpmlady

    Very eloquently put! McNabb proved himself to be another thick-headed “athlete” that only considers running or walking back and forth for a couple of hours more athletic than wrangling a sauna for sometimes more than four hours. Right, McNabb. Somehow I get the feeling if he did take a ride in a stock car at Dega, 200 mph, next to the wall, he would be squealing like a stuck pig.

  • Jake


    That boy McNabb sounds bitter and resentful.

    Wonder why?

  • scott

    he should be fired like others are for making comments like that…lol Yep lets be ridiculous like all the other whiners in this world..

  • Truth

    Yeah, they are definitely not athletes. Competitors is a better word

  • Anonymous

    I’m just happy that McNabb’s whole career will be described as ‘tortured, conflicted, anguished, and underachieving.’ But he and his soup-feeding Momma declare him to be an ‘athlete,’ so he has that to hang his hat on.

  • grand wizard

    McNabb is just your typical ignorant quadroon

  • Dapandico

    Dog whistle racism from McNabb.

  • Larry Olsen

    While I totally disagree with McNabbs statement, I do respect his right to say it. An opinion after all is only a singular point of view. MOST opinions stated, either in private or public, denote this point of view and are not without debate. As for his subsequent statements on the definition of athlete, these lead a speculation that he either has 1) no respect for those he does not deem athletes or 2) a need to feel his statements require defending. Either way, the definition of athlete completely covers competitive drivers.

  • Sir Von

    Nascar is a competition. Jimmy Johnson is currently the best at what he does, but he does not have to be athletic to be a Nascar driver. Which is confusing because how can a person be a athlete if he’s not required to be athletic?
    When a person goes on a good run at winning the World Series of Poker are we going to call that person a athlete too because they’re performing on a high level?

  • Sir Von

    No matter the discussion someone will always find a way to play the race card.

  • Steve


  • Tomin8tor

    Ernest Hemingway said that there are only three true sports, auto racing, bull-fighting, and mountain climbing. But Mr. McNibb probably cannot read, so how would he know that? He’s a big crybaby who constantly plays the race card. What if we started stereotyping him?

  • Rick

    Jimmy Johnson is a better quarterback then Donovan.

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