Scott Fowler

D.J. Moore drove his car 113 mph. What should Carolina Panthers do about it?

Wide receiver D.J. Moore, who was Carolina’s first-round pick in 2018, is a local Philadelphia legend. But he’s stayed humble, non-flashy and grounded.
Wide receiver D.J. Moore, who was Carolina’s first-round pick in 2018, is a local Philadelphia legend. But he’s stayed humble, non-flashy and grounded. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

We all knew D.J. Moore was fast.

Just not that fast.

Moore, the wide receiver out of Maryland who was the Panthers’ first-round draft choice four months ago, was clocked going 113 mph in a 65-mph work zone on a Charlotte highway in the wee hours of Aug. 9.

Think about that for a second.

No, not the part where you marvel that anyone got to drive at more than 15 mph — ever — while going north on Interstate 77.

Marvel at the fact that Moore was clocked going 48 mph over the speed limit. In a work zone.

Do you know how dangerous that is? Sure you do. Everyone does. Moore could have killed himself — or, God forbid, someone else — with one errant turn of the wheel at 113 mph.

Yes, it was 2:52 a.m., which means traffic was light and Moore probably wasn’t going to hit anyone in his 2017 white Mercedes. Yes, he was polite and cooperative with the officer who pulled him over shortly after the Panthers flew back into Charlotte after winning a preseason game at Buffalo. And yes, thankfully, he was “only” driving too fast and wasn’t cited for anything else illegal.

Moore was charged with speeding, as well as speeding in a work zone at over 80 mph.

Way, way over.

Perhaps the speed of the car is best described by the officer who saw it. This sort of phrase doesn’t make a police report very often, but it did this time: In his description of the stop, trooper H.L. Bautista wrote “F--- that car is moving.”

So Moore made a mistake. And then he did the right thing by telling the Panthers about it. In turn, the Panthers say they have “chastised” Moore for his error and are otherwise going to let the legal system run its course. Moore is scheduled for an Oct. 2 court date.

“When it all happened, D.J. came to us right away and explained the situation,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Tuesday. “He was very remorseful. He understood. We chastised him, obviously. And he’s moving on.”

Rivera added: “And it’s an opportunity to learn for him and for the other young guys. ‘Hey, you have a responsibility to the community.’”

Yes, you do. We all do.

But in this case, outside of however the court case turns out in six weeks, I think the teachable moment could continue right now. The Panthers should not play Moore Friday against New England in this next preseason game. I also think they should announce that the reason they are not going to do so is that he will be benched for one game for acting that irresponsibly.

No one got killed, and Lord knows there have been a number of pro athletes in Charlotte who have been involved in far worse things than this. I am the father of two young drivers myself, ages 17 and 20, and I know that they make mistakes.

I’m not saying the Panthers are minimizing Moore’s mistake. I believe they really did hammer Moore verbally after this incident and that they believe the wide receiver will never do this sort of thing again.

But reasonable minds can disagree, and in this case, I would do it differently. Besides that one-game benching, I’d give Moore an assignment. I would make Moore attend a four-hour session at one of Doug Herbert’s incredibly good and free “BRAKES” classes, which teach defensive driving to teenaged drivers.

Moore is 21. The North Carolina classes are officially for ages 16-20, but believe me, they’d find room. BRAKES is not a punishment, and it’s not boring. They put kids into real cars in all sorts of difficult real-life situations ripe for bad decisions and then show the kids what to do to get out of them safely.

Herbert used to go 300 mph for a living as a champion drag racer. BRAKES has become his passion since excessive speed helped cause the deaths of his two sons, ages 17 and 12, in an awful car crash in Cornelius in 2008.

Anyway, that’s my commercial for BRAKES — one of the most worthy things your teenager will ever do. There’s a reason why there is always a waiting list. (Stephanie Rivera, the wife of Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, is also a supporter featured in the organization’s promotional video.) Two of my kids have already taken the class; the next two also will.

D.J. Moore needs to apply some BRAKES into his life as well.

Speeding away faster than everybody else on a football field is something to be applauded.

Doing that on a highway is not.

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