The pictures of Monday's tornado aftermath on Lane Johnson's cell phone didn't come from CNN or a newspaper. They were taken, Johnson said, by ex-Oklahoma Sooners teammates who made the short drive from Norman to Moore, Okla., to try to help first responders.
Offensive tackle Johnson and his fellow ex-Sooner, defensive end David King, were stunned and horrified to see the devastation in Moore; both recalled frequently going to see movies at the ravaged theater that has been so prominent in news coverage of the disaster. "That's a popular spot," King said.
King has a photo on his phone of the heavily damaged theater's marquee, which still lists the Michael Bay film "Pain & Gain," a startling message amid the rubble.
"That gave me chills, when I saw that," King said.
"A few of my teammates lived in Moore; their houses might be gone," Johnson, the Eagles' first-round rookie, said yesterday at NovaCare. "It's terrible."
Johnson said he learned of the tornado as he was leaving the practice facility Monday afternoon.
"I went back to the hotel and saw it on CNN," he recalled. "It was hard practicing out there today, worried about people back home, my friends … I'd always go to Moore to do things, see a movie and stuff."
Johnson said he has spent his spare time "checking Facebook and getting texts, calling people and seeing if they're OK."
Johnson estimated Moore is a 10-minute drive from the OU campus. King noted that if you're going to Oklahoma City from Norman, you pass through Moore, a southern suburb on I-35.
"Toby Keith's from Moore," Johnson said. "Pretty good high school teams there; a bunch of our (Sooner) players are from South Moore."
Johnson and King both came to OU from Texas and quickly learned about life in "Tornado Alley."
"April to June, that's tornado season," King said. "I've seen, I want to say, four. But none that big. The biggest one I've seen was last year before the spring game, one touched down on the highway (near campus), did a bunch of damage, destroyed a bunch of restaurants. You could see the funnel over the stadium; it skipped over the stadium and touched down on another side of Norman and kind of destroyed an elementary school but it was the weekend, so nobody was there … There were two my redshirt freshman year that just went down Highway 9, which runs through Norman, destroyed a place where people store boats. Nothing to (Monday's) magnitude, no deaths, no serious injuries."
King said he is supposed to fly to Oklahoma City this weekend for a teammate's wedding. "I don't know if this will affect it or not," he said.