When you're late for work and have to speed down the highway and zig-zag lanes in order to make it in on time, are you being an athlete? Not according to Golden Tate.
The second-year receiver for the Seahawks scoffed at Jimmie Johnson's ESPY Award nomination as male athlete of the year and used his Twitter account to say so.
"Jimmy johnson up for best athlete???? Um nooo .. Driving a car does not show athleticism," Tate tweeted during Wednesday evening's awards show.
The 22-year-old incited a Twitter war with angry NASCAR fans who insisted that yes, putting your foot on the gas pedal and turning left does constitute being an athlete.
Johnson took the jab in stride while fielding questions Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
"I think it's easy to make a comment when you don't know," Johnson said. "In a lot of situations, people haven't been to a race or been close enough to our sport to understand what takes place here."
The Associated Press, unlike Tate, does see NASCAR driving as a sport. In 2009 the AP voted Johnson the male athlete of the year after he won the fourth of his five consecutive Sprint Cup series championships.
"It's something we have fought for a long time," said Johnson in reference to recognizing driving as a sport. "There is just an education process that has to take place across a lot of mediums. Through sports, I'm excited to see top athletes come in and see what we do and also go for rides in cars and be around. And when they do, they are our best advocates. They are out there telling the story."
Tate was telling a different story on his Twitter page, defiantly opposing complaints from NASCAR followers.
"I've driven a car on unknown roads at night at 90mph no big deal. No sign of athletism."
"Guarantee he couldn't in million year play any SPORT."
"give me 6 months of training and I bet I could compete."
As the comments kept coming Tate eventually backed off his stance, tweeting at one point, "Apologies for my offensive comment to NASCAR fans. I actually read up on it and NO I couldn't race a car 150 mph."
The 60th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, Tate still hasn't been willing to call NASCAR a sport but showed his appreciation for NASCAR fans' support of their drivers.
"will say my respect for NASCAR has gone up tremendously yalls fans r hard nose and passionate #respect!"
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