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Golden Tate says NASCAR drivers aren’t athletes, hears it from racing fans

Nnamdi Asomugha, Golden Tate

Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (21) breaks up a pass intended for Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate (81) during the second quarter of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)


Seahawks receiver Golden Tate stepped into a controversy this week when he went on Twitter and proclaimed that NASCAR drivers aren’t athletes.

Tate was watching the ESPY Awards and saw that NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson was nominated for male athlete of the year. Tate wasn’t impressed.

“Jimmy johnson up for best athlete???? Um nooo .. Driving a car does not show athleticism,” Tate tweeted.

That led to a bunch of racing fans tweeting back at Tate, telling him he was wrong. But Tate wasn’t backing down.

Who looks like a better athlete?” Tate asked one NASCAR fans who challenged him on Twitter. “Lebron making a sick play or a guy or Jimmie riding on circles?”

I’m not saying NASCAR isn’t hard,” Tate added. “I’m just saying u don’t have to be athletic to do that.”

I’m sure I’ll hear it from racing fans now, too, but Tate is obviously right that to call Johnson the best “athlete” is ridiculous. Tate is a much better athlete than Johnson. Every NFL wide receiver is a much better athlete than Johnson.

Of course, if the ESPY Awards were really looking to honor the best “athlete,” they’d nominate a bunch of Olympic decathletes. What the ESPY Awards actually mean when they say “Best Male Athlete” is “Man who has accomplished the most in his sport.” Johnson is a five-time champion in his sport, so it’s easy to see why he was nominated.

When told about Tate’s comments, Johnson extended an invitation for Tate to attend a race. And Tate tweeted that after hearing from passionate NASCAR fans, “I will say my respect for NASCAR has gone up tremendously.”