So why aren't NASCAR fans excited about one of the few positives to hit the sport this year? The answer is simple: you can change the venue, but you can't change the person sitting at the head table. And after the champion's two weeks of a national campaign across America, we've got a new affliction for racing fans across America: Jimmie Johnson fatigue.
Everywhere you've turned over the last two weeks, chances are you've seen Johnson plastered across your TV screen. Whether with Yankee
There's just one problem with this strategy: name one memorable moment that stands out from his several appearances on national radio, television and other media outlets. Waiting ... still waiting ...
No, I can't remember one either. Sadly, the best forum for Johnson to display his personality wasn't even televised. It took place at a Wednesday roast, where NASCAR racers poked fun at the four-time champ. The humor was R-rated, but for NASCAR's G-rated everyman that's exactly what fans need to buy into the fact he has a personality! Seriously, wouldn't you rather see other drivers poking fun at Jimmie while he fights off the laughs? Here's a preview, with a little quip from
"Wow. Four championships in a row, Jimmie. I bet you wish you could do that with your wife."
Or, would you rather see Johnson sitting at your local TV news desk reading a carefully polished statement while taking the time to thank Lowe's, Kobalt and that little sticker on his front bumper that no one can read but for which the sponsor pays $1 million?
Therein lies the quandary for a sport transformed from rough and rugged to the epitome of political correctness. Their champion, while athletically talented, remains more vanilla in the public eye than the flavor in your local ice cream shop. Sure, he's different in private, but superstars are judged on their public persona -- and there's just nothing there to generate the buzz NASCAR desperately needs.
We've seen this type of problem before in other major sports.
Still, NASCAR has decided the solution is to push harder. In the two weeks since the season ended, we've seen Johnson more than the Super Bowl, World Series, and NBA champs combined after their big wins. It's kind of like trying to force a cat to play with you when the cat is completely uninterested. Pet owners know what I'm talking about here: one toy or six toys aren't going to make a difference, 'cause if the animal doesn't want to play, it won't. And that's exactly what frustrated fans are doing, changing the channel in disgust after being reminded of a run of dominance that reminds them of too many things going wrong in the sport instead of right.
So congratulations, Jimmie, on your fourth straight title in the Cup Series. The overriding theme from most garage insiders is you don't get the credit you're due, and that when everyone takes a step back this offseason, they'll realize what an achievement this was.
But no one can sit back and reflect when you're constantly in front of the camera. Well, Jimmie, as soon as the banquet is over, can you do us one simple favor? Take a hard-earned vacation ... and have NASCAR leave the publicity at home for a bit. It's time to leave sport fans wanting more ... not wanting a break.