Sure the Bristol sports dynasty is the place outstanding athletes go to be interviewed on a host of the ESPN radio and tv programs, especially after they have accomplished something really great. But Johnson was there for another reason as well. The 38-year-old is the first athlete ever to guest co-host ESPN’s 34-year-old signature show “SportsCenter.”
“I am so nervous,” said the married 38-year-old who is considered one of the best race car drivers there is as he comes within record-breaking reach of the winning records of iconic drivers Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty. “I hated even getting up and doing oral book reports in school,” said the Hendrick Motorsports driver who said he has a hard time even standing at a podium to address a crowd.
ESPN however, had other plans for the race car driver. Johnson spent the day there learning how to read teleprompters, look at the camera and in general, be a co-host worthy of the show.
Still visibly excited after his performance over the weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway , Johnson said that while being “Six Time,” winning race car is pretty satisfying, he would be just as happy being “Two Time” winning Dad to his two daughters.
Speaking of girls, what about that Danica Patrick who is blazing the trail and the racetrack when it comes to female drivers who are making their impressive mark on the sport.
“She brings so much to the sport,” said the soft-spoken Johnson. ” And she is such a nice woman,” he added. “I would love to see my daughters race but am not so sure their mother would.”
Johnson, who guest hosted with regular co-hosts John Anderson and Lindsay Czarniak on the show that was rebroadcast at 7 p.m. , while Johnson is the first athlete to take on the guest role, he is the third celebrity guest host. Actors Billy Crystal and Ken Jeong were the first two.
And among the topics a sports-coat clad Johnson discussed on the show, Sunday’s Panthers-Patriots game and the questionable pass interference call, the Lakers recuperating Kobe Bryant and his planned return to the court, the Cold Hard Facts segment on football picks and pans and of course, his own win!
And by the way, he did just fine with that teleprompter!