I’m not one who likes to hear about drinking and driving stories.
My wife and I were hit by a drunk driver on November 12, 2006. It was his 4th offense. We were both very fortunate to not be seriously injured or killed and, at the time, unbeknownst to us, my wife was pregnant. We were minding our own business, at 3pm in the afternoon no less, about 1.5 miles from our home, when this lunatic hit us from behind on Harford Rd.
Steve McNair’s arrest in Nashville early today sparked a great deal of conversation during today’s Comcast Morning Show.
I got a ton of phone calls and e-mails from people saying, “Drew, don’t rush to judgment. Here’s what could have happened.” I then read and heard stories ranging from black athletes getting pulled over for no reason to the police officer being upset that McNair no longer plays for the Titans to even someone suggesting that going 44 in a 30 mph zone and refusing to take the breathalyzer isn’t something we should be that concerned about since “police are always looking for reasons to pull people over.”
So I’m going to use that “here’s what could have happened” theory and carry on with it from here.
I don’t know what exactly transpired in Nashville early this morning with Steve McNair. I don’t know if he was too drunk to drive and handed the keys to his brother-in-law and said, “Dude, get us home.” (That could have happened). I don’t know if McNair’s brother-in-law had a couple of beers, grabbed McNair by the arm and said, “let’s go to another bar, I’ll drive your truck if you don’t feel like driving.” (That could have happened). I don’t know if McNair even really USES the truck. Sure, he owns it. The truck’s title is in HIS name. But maybe he bought that truck for his brother-in-law on his 30th birthday and McNair, while the actual OWNER of the vehicle, no more considers that HIS truck than he considers it MY truck. (That could have happened). Perhaps McNair didn’t have ANYTHING to drink at all. Nothing except bottled water. And maybe he just likes being driven around town like a rock star by his brother-in-law and perhaps his brother-in-law had a few cold ones and when the time came to leave, McNair decided he’d rather sit shotgun with a possibly-intoxicated driver than grab the wheel himself. (That could have happened). And maybe, McNair went to a club, saw some friends, had no idea where his brother-in-law wandered off to, spent 20 minutes with his buddies, got a text message from his brother-in-law saying, “Hey, I’m in the truck waiting for you…this place is dead” and then McNair simply got in the truck without even knowing his brother-in-law had done 3 quick shots of something nasty just 10 minutes before. (That could have happened). Maybe McNair said to his brother-in-law, “Are you sure you’re OK to drive?” and maybe his brother-in-law said, “Yeah, I’m fine.” (That could have happened…although that wouldn’t quite explain why his brother-in-law refused the breathalyzer if he were, “fine”, but I’m accepting that scenario could have happened.) And then again, maybe McNair and his brother-in-law went out for a boys night out…each had WAY too much to drink…they did paper, rock and scissors to see who got behind the wheel, McNair won, his brother-in-law grabbed the keys, they were seen buzzing through a residential area at excessive speed…and the rest is history (That could have happened.)
Do we all agree that all of those examples are “things” that could have happened?
Then I think we can all also agree on this:
It’s 12:30 am in the suburbs of Nashville on a nice spring night/morning. James Smith is a 22-year old who is graduating from college on Saturday and is planning on proposing to his 22-year old girlfriend, Sarah Jones, in front of his entire family and friends at a huge graduation party his family is throwing for him this Saturday night after he walks across the stage at Vanderbilt.
James’ relatives are all flying in from Florida and New York…his grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles, cousins…he’s the FIRST member of his family to ever graduate from college. It’s been a long battle, but he’s finally going to walk across that stage. He and Sarah have been dating since they were in 10th grade. She adores him. All she’s ever thought about is marrying James Smith. She’s like family to the Smith family already. He’s purchased the engagement ring and Saturday night he’ll make her the happiest girl in the world when he gets down on one knee and proposes. James goes over to Sarah’s house on Wednesday night to watch American Idol and goof around with her kid brother. They go swimming in the family pool, watch the late news, and James kisses Sarah goodbye and heads home at 12 midnight.
At 12:35, James makes a right hand turn off the highway and heads toward his house. He’s driving safely, minding his own business and just 2 miles from home.
At 12:36, a truck, driven by an intoxicated driver with a professional football player in the passenger seat, collides with a parked car in a residential area, bounces off a tree, rolls over twice and before James Smith can react, the truck rolls over one final time onto the hood of Smith’s car.
At 3:30 am, the phone rings at the Smith residence and a Nashville police officer says to Smith’s mom: “Ma’am, I know this isn’t going to be a Mother’s Day weekend you’ll want to remember because your son has just been killed by a drunk driver.”
And at 3:35 am, Smith’s mom calls Sarah Jones to tell her that the man she was going to marry has been killed by a drunk driver.
And at 3:50 am, Smith’s mom calls all 16 of the relatives who were flying in to see the graduation event at Vanderbilt and tells them there will be no party on Saturday night and there will be no walk across the stage…because James Smith was killed by someone who got behind the wheel of a truck when he had too much to drink.
That could have happened.