JOHNSON IS MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Jimmie Johnson – whom I recently thought of a good nickname for – on Monday became the first driver to win the Associated Press’s Male Athlete of the Year award. OK, let’s take the new nickname for a spin. Vanilla Nice (see how I combined his vanilla-ness and his nice-ness there?) received 42 votes from editors at U.S. newspapers that are members of the AP. In their 78-year history of giving out the award, AP voters never thought to give Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr. or Jeff Gordon the award. Tennis star Roger Federer (30 votes) and Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt (29) were second and third. ESPN has a commercial now that features Usain Bolt. My sports-loving dad did not know who Bolt was when he saw it. This might have been a slow news year.

With four straight titles – a feat that would have been cause for national ejaculation attention in other sports – Vanilla Nice is finally getting his props. "We’d been wondering the last few years, ‘When is this going to hit?’" Johnson said. "It seems like the answer is now. The wave is finally peaking, and we don’t know where it’s going to take us. The fourth-straight title takes it out of our sport and makes it a point of discussion – like, wow, a race car driver won this thing."



Word to your mother.

NASCAR’s Johnson wins Male Athlete of the Year (AP)