Dear Keyshawn Johnson,
I just wanted to contact you and thank you for living our dreams for us. First, you were an All-American first-round draft pick, Super Bowl champion, superstar wide receiver. You retired from the NFL in 2006 and now you’re a popular sportscaster. For a lot of folks, that’s living the dream. For you, it’s Wednesday. Well done.
Then, last week, it was reported by TMZ that you chased down cherub-faced songster Justin Bieber after he allegedly sped his Ferrari by your house at around 90 mph. You live in a gated community in Los Angeles and were outside playing with your three-year-old daughter (you’re the father of four kids) and he blew by and, rather than simply stand there and steam, you decided to do something about it. You were not going to get mad. You were going to get even.
As you told the Los Angeles television KTLA, “You could hear the roar of the engine. He treats our streets like it’s the Indy 500. That’s it with this kid. It’s enough. I followed him back to his house in my Prius. When I confronted him in his garage, he tried to say one of his friends was driving the car, not him, that they switched seats. It’s the same stuff he’s pulled before. I’m 6-4, 240 pounds. He’s 5-10, 150. Whatever. He looked at me and ran into his house like a wet puppy.
“There are families with kids playing outside in our neighbourhood. It’s reckless and dangerous. I talked to the sheriffs and they say they are tired of him and his entitled behaviour. This kid is going to kill somebody.”
Keyshawn, rather than do nothing, you called someone to account. Of course, a few days later, Bieber’s buddy “Tyler the Creator” claimed that he was the one driving, but the fact remains, confronted by street racing you did something. You held the Biebster, whom you believed was speeding, personally responsible. That’s dream number two fulfilled. We’d all like the chance to do that. In fact, you kind of double-downed on the dream-living because you lived out dream three by actually making driving a Prius seem cool.
I spend a lot of time trying to figure out the appeal of speeding on suburban streets. Why to some, almost entirely male, drivers, it’s exciting to endanger cyclists, pedestrians and other motorist for a few cheap thrills. It’s epidemic in North America. Barely a day goes by without a report of some yahoo pretending he’s in The Fast and The Furious on a side street. You know, Keyshawn, come to think of it, those movies are well named. There are the “Fast” (them) and the “Furious” (us).
Last month, for instance, the Ottawa Citizen reported that two men were arrested for driving 200 km/h in Gatineau, Que. These super-cool dudes were driving Honda Civics. And, as you pointed out, the results can be fatal. Just days before the Biebs is said to have ripped through the streets, a Los Angeles woman was killed when a street racer ran a red and smashed into her car.
Part of the problem with street racers is that they go fast. By the time the crime has been done, like all cowards, they’re gone.
That’s a big part of street racing – the pathetic need for unsubstantial men to try to compensate for their limp personalities. If these guys were serious about cars and speed (both of which I adore), they’d go to a track and put themselves to the test against like-minded drivers. In the automotive journalism game, we call it “racing.” But street racers lack the guts.
Who are these guys? Some are rich spoiled brats whose parents give them fast cars in lieu of actual attention. So they act out on the road. This breed is as old as the road itself. Others are car buffs who spend money fixing up their Honda Civics and subsequently can’t resist the urge to try to break the sound barrier on residential streets. Given the frequency of the crime, there must be many other varieties. Who knows where they all come from?
Who is to blame? That’s another matter: bad parents, weird DNA, society, male hormones, the media, lax laws. That’s a good start.
But Keyshawn, your example tells me that we need to start by taking responsibility rather than muttering about it under our breath. We, the furious, must be faster when it comes to fighting street racers. Instead of ignoring it, we can report it. We can call the cops or do what you did – if we believe that a pop star, who happens to live in our gated community, is driving at dangerous speeds, we can drive our Prius over to his house to give him a piece of our mind.
Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy