During his ten years in the NFL, Chris Johnson has done things few other men in the history of pro football have ever done. He is a member of the legendary “2,000 Yard Rushing Club”, which gained him the moniker CJ2K. Other than Johnson, there are only six other players in NFL history who have broken this barrier in a single season, including Hall of Famers Barry Sanders, Eric Dickerson, and Terrell Davis. In 2009, he racked up the 7th most all-purpose yards of all-time (2,509) with the Tennessee Titans. That same year, he was named the NFL Offensive Player of the Year. To this day, his 4.24 second 40-yard dash is still the 2nd fastest ever officially recorded at the NFL Draft Combine. Johnson’s stats undoubtedly speak for themselves.
It is no great shock that the cars he loves possess the same kind of explosive acceleration that has made him one of the most feared running backs of his generation. Looking at his current stable of four-wheeled beasts, what is clear is, if a car does not have at least 570 horses, a thunderous exhaust note, and the ability to liquefy its rear tires in a single pass, it does not qualify. But there’s more to Johnson’s career and to his cars than just the numbers. There is also that indefinable rush of pure adrenaline he gets when patiently waits for a block to develop before making a lightning-quick cut and exploding through an opening for a touchdown. It’s that same rush he gets on an open Florida road as he smashes the gas pedal, chirps the mammoth rear wheels, and gets pushed back into his seat by the raw power of any one of his favorite whips.
This summer, DUB had a chance to talk to Johnson about his love of high-end performance cars and how they mirror the unparalleled speed he has displayed throughout his career; speed that has left many a bewildered defender grasping at air in his wake in a futile attempt to stop him from getting to the goal line.
When did you first notice that all your favorite cars were two-door sports coupes?
I started looking at cars in high school and it was always sports cars. I just liked how they looked. Exotic. I’d see a Ferrari driving down the street and it would always catch my eye. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had a Maybach 57, BMW X6, a BMW 750, a lot of cars. But my favorites are the coupes. My first one when I first got to the league was a red Corvette with spinners on it. My second car was a blue Bentley coupe with a red interior.
How did you decide on getting your Ferrari 458 Italia?
It was in 2012. I had always wanted a Ferrari. The first one that caught my eye was the California. But once I really got into (doing research on) them, I saw the 458 Italia with the hard drop top. I’m not a fan of soft tops. The Italia was faster, had more horsepower, and with that drop top, it transforms. It was perfect for me.
What are some things you like the most about your 458 Italia?
It’s got that red interior. That’s my favorite color. But when I got the rims, I knew I didn’t want too much red, so I went with the white with the trim in red. It looks great with the top up, but with the top down and that red interior, it looks even better. It gets pretty hot in Florida, so you have to drop the top but you also blast the AC. Get your hair blowing in the wind, all those types of things.
The look of your DB11 is really unique. How did you decide on that color scheme?
When I first got the Aston, it was white. I put a gloss Dragon Fire Red wrap on it. And then I also got the rims done black with the red trim – 22” Savinis. That’s all I really needed to do.
How do your 458 Italia and the DB11 compare to each other? Do you have a favorite?
The Aston and the Rari are different. The Rari is raw like a race car. The Aston is still fast, still got that torque, but it’s smoother. More of a relaxed ride. The Ferrari is more old school inside. The Aston has all the technology. When I wanna drive the Ferrari, it’s usually on the weekend or at a special event. It’s not the most comfortable to drive. It’s straight speed.
Both are head-turners for sure. Which one gets more attention from bystanders?
Both of them get attention. A white Rari is always gonna stand out, even if there’s a million of them in Florida. The Aston gets attention because a lot of people will still ask, “What is that?” A lot of people don’t know what a DB11 is; they just know is just an exotic coupe that they’ve never seen.
I see you have a Can Am Spyder as well. That seems like a bit of a departure from all your two-door coupes. When did you get that?
I’ve owned the Can Am for maybe 4 or 5 years. Got it painted Candy Red. It’s a similar color to the Aston but with chrome trim and accessories. I take it out every now and then but not too much. I got it mostly because it looks good (laughs).
What do you use as your daily driver?
I got the Benz in 2015. It’s an AMG S63 Coupe. It was silver when I got it. I originally got it wrapped in matte black. Now I got the pearl white wrap on it with the 22-inch gold Savinis. It’s probably one of the smoothest cars I ever drove. I can drive it every day. One of the things it’s got that the others don’t is (on-screen) night vision. It’s futuristic, like a space ship.
When you look at how you achieved your goal of being an NFL superstar and are able get the kinds of cars you only dreamed about as a kid, how does that make you feel?
You know, as a kid, when you don’t have much, it drives you. To want to make it, to want to be great. It’s love for the game, but on top of that, you want to be able to provide for your family. Your family does everything in their power to raise you up when you’re a kid. You may not be able to pay your mom and your grandmother back for everything that they’ve done for you, but you can try.
So, looking back your NFL career, out of all your achievements and the records you set, is there one thing that stands out that you are proudest of?
I would say just making it to the NFL. That was my number one goal since way before high school. I’ve I put everything I had, all my rocks in one bucket. I did everything to make sure I reached that goal and make it to that level. I didn’t want to look back and think, “I should’ve done this or I should’ve done that.” I feel like with any goal you have in mind, if you put that much effort and time into it, you can be a success.