|Jimmie Johnson media tour hits Bristol for ESPN|
Johnson became the first athlete co-host of ESPN’s SportsCenter when he sat in on the 6 p.m. ET edition of the popular highlight and analysis show, joining regular hosts John Anderson and Lindsay Czarniak.
Johnson was featured in several segments, including one in which he asked analyst Tedy Bruschi six questions about the NFL. During the segment, Johnson and Bruschi discussed the personal foul that was called on Ahmad Brooks for his high hit on Drew Brees during Sunday’s Saints-49ers game. Bruschi emphatically said he believed the hit to be legal, and offered to pay part of Brooks’ fine, just as his fellow ESPN analyst Ray Lewis had.
Bruschi then challenged Johnson to pay part of the fine with him and Lewis. After an awkward pause, Johnson agreed, saying: “Yeah, why not.”
The show tried to make things easy for Johnson, who has little-to-no broadcasting experience, by setting him up for interviews with Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, with whom he compared beards and talked about winning a World Series, and Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops. Johnson and Stoops are friendly, and shared stories about spending time together in Norman. Johnson’s wife attended Oklahoma.’
Later in the show, the hosts asked Johnson about Donovan McNabb’s recent quote in which the former quarterback said he didn’t believe Johnson was an athlete.
“There’s so much going on inside the car. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, and Donovan certainly is,” said Johnson. “I’d love to invite him out and have him come experience driving a race car and what that all entails. See the hand-eye coordination. It’s blazing hot inside that car. You have four layers of fire suit on. Your heart rate is probably 140 to 150 … over a three-to-four-hour period of time. So there is a lot going on … including all the G-forces that are being put on all the drivers.”
Later in the show, During a NASCAR-only edition of the segment “Not Top Ten,” Johnson made repeated sarcastic references to his fellow drivers not being “athletes,” a gentle way of firing back at McNabb.
The appearance was Johnson’s second national-TV appearance of the day. On Tuesday morning he appeared on ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael, where hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan had some fun with the driver by giving him time to practice reading from a teleprompter.
“Seriously?” asked Johnson, as he saw what the show had written for him on the teleprompter. He blushed, and after being prodded by Strahan, continued reading:
“Check out Jimmie Johnson, the super sexy six-time champ, on SportsCenter tonight … ”
The crowd cheered and laughed, and then the show cut to commercial.
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