The Washington Football Team just made some NASCAR legends very happy. The NFL team selected former Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis with the 19th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. The one-year starter became the top option to bolster the defense, but he also took strides toward becoming Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s new favorite player.
The rookie turned heads prior to the NFL Draft by revealing that he has a lot of love for NASCAR. He grew up as a fan of seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson while his brother rooted for Tony Stewart. His sister, on the other hand, viewed Earnhardt as her favorite. ESPN highlighted this information during the Thursday night broadcast, prompting Johnson to reach out to the new Washington defender and invite him to a race.
— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) April 30, 2021
The seven-time champ is not the only former driver that reached out to Davis after he landed with the Football Team. Earnhardt also responded to the selection by tweeting an animated Gif of Santana Moss, Sean Taylor, and Clinton Portis. Earnhardt has long proclaimed his love for Washington’s NFL team, and now he can cheer for a massive NASCAR fan each week.
The Washington linebacker previously got behind the wheel of a race car
According to Kentucky.com, Davis previously had the opportunity to visit an iconic race track. He and the football team headed to Charlotte Motor Speedway for a special event after securing a spot in the 2019 Belk Bowl against Virginia Tech.
— Lee K. Howard (@HowardWKYT) December 28, 2019
The players and staff members first posed for photos with the custom-wrapped Kentucky stock car and then they hopped in the passenger seats of stock cars for ride alongs at the site of the Coca-Cola 600. However, some of the players had permission to take some laps of their own. Davis was among the players that got behind the steering during the special event.
Two years after the special trip to Charlotte Motor Speedway, Davis became a member of the Washington Football Team and received shoutouts from NASCAR legends. The Daytona International Speedway account also reached out and suggested using the Daytona 500 as the site of the meetup between the linebacker and Johnson. “That would be a dream come true!” Davis responded.
There is a strong connection between NASCAR and the Washington team
Denny Hamlin and Earnhardt are both fans of the Washington Football Team, but they are not the only NASCAR figures with a strong connection to the NFL franchise. Joe Gibbs, the owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, previously enjoyed two stints with Washington, both before and after he became a prominent part of professional stock car racing.
Gibbs first became the head coach of the then-Washington Redskins in 1981, replacing a fired Jack Pardee. The team started 0-5 during Gibbs’ first season but recovered to post an 8-8 record. They continued to improve in the strike-shortened 1982 season by reaching Super Bowl XVII and defeating the Miami Dolphins 27-17.
The coach-turned-NASCAR owner remained with Washington until the end of the 1992 season, winning three Lombardi Trophies in the process. He ultimately made the decision to retire after losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs, later becoming a member of the 1996 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.
Despite running a successful NASCAR team, Gibbs returned to Washington once more. He accepted the head coaching job in 2004, kicking off a second four-year stint. Gibbs led Washington to two playoff appearances (2005 and 2007) but failed to return to the Big Game. The NFL team lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round and then lost a wild-card round game to the Pacific Northwest team two years later. Gibbs then retired for the final time and shifted his focus fully back to NASCAR.
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