July 14, 2011
NASCAR fans have heard some version of the "drivers aren't athletes" nonsense pretty much as long as they've been fans. "I drive to the grocery store," the doubters say, "I guess I can be a NASCAR driver too!" It's nothing new, but this is: an NFL player actually tweeting this:
That's Golden Tate, a second-year receiver for the Seattle Seahawks, talking smack about Johnson, who's a five-time champion and former AP Athlete of the Year. (Unless, of course, he was talking about the former Cowboys coach, in which case I'd agree that he shouldn't be up for best athlete.)
Tate then doubled down, adding that "Gurantee he couldn't in million year [sic] play any SPORT" and "I've driven a car on unknown roads at night at 90mph no big deal. No sign of athletism [sic]."
After a barrage of pro-NASCAR replies, he relented somewhat, saying "I'm not saying NASCAR isn't hard I'm just saying u don't have to be athletic to do that..." and "Apologies for my offensive comment to NASCAR fans. I actually read up on it and NO I couldn't race a car 150 mph."
Still, that apology was about as heartfelt as most athlete apologies are; within minutes he was back to slagging racing and Johnson. ("tell me this from a distance who looks like a better athlete? Lebron making a sick play ... or Jimmie riding on circles." True enough, but you can see what you want to see: From a distance, which looks more athletic, a driver making a three-wide pass with inches to spare or a receiver running a route where he doesn't get the ball?)
There are plenty of ways to counter this line of thinking, but let's leave it to NASCAR's resident Twitter philosopher, Brad Keselowski. Jet Ski gave the most effective answer you'll ever see for why drivers are, in fact, athletes. As Keselowski said, imagine:
Yep, sounds pretty easy to me. Chad Ochocinco, a wide receiver usually far mouthier than Tate, got this when he declined to do anything more than ride along for a spin at Atlanta Motor Speedway last month. I'm fairly certain there are a few drivers who'd be willing to give Tate the same gracious treatment.
Later Wednesday, Johnson took the high road:
Your move, Mr. Tate.
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