Donovan McNabb Sparks Controversy After Saying NASCAR Drivers Aren't Athletes

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2013

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 19:  Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb looks on from the field prior to the game between the Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs at Lincoln Financial Field on September 19, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. McNabb will have his jersey retired at halftime of the game.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Donovan McNabb has found himself in hot water for a negative comment that was geared toward NASCAR competitors.

During an appearance on Fox Sports Live on Friday, the former NFL quarterback refused to classify Jimmie Johnson as an athlete. The comment came during a segment determining the most dominant athletes of the last decade. Despite his statement, McNabb ranked Johnson third behind Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant, saying he respects Johnson's accomplishments.

McNabb, who is 36 years old and played 13 seasons in the NFL, did not hold back in his assessment. According to Jeff Gluck of USA Today, he said the following about Johnson on the show: "He’s not an athlete. He sits in a car and he drives. That’s not athletic… What athletically is he doing?"

This certainly didn't go over well with social media, as noted by Jay Pennell of Fox Sports. Fellow drivers and loads of NASCAR fans from around the country defended the popular competitor. The general consensus was that the longtime Philadelphia Eagles star was blatantly wrong.      

Johnson himself was very respectful in his response, even when his fans tried to rile him up:

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Jeff Gordon also backed up his fellow driver and challenged McNabb to join him on a ride:

#PeopleWhoAreMoreAthleticThanDonovanMcNabb was trending on Twitter in the U.S. Friday night.

Johnson already has five career Sprint Cup Series titles and currently leads the 2013 Race for the Cup while in search for his sixth championship.

There are few participants in any competition of this magnitude that can claim this much success.     

Johnson is clearly the best driver of his generation and one of the best ever. While some may refuse to consider NASCAR drivers athletes, the champion is clearly not letting it affect him on his path to history.

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