As a Tennessee Titans and Steve McNair fan, I wanted to take a little time today to reflect on the show last night, A Football Life about the late, great, Steve “Air” McNair on the NFL Network.
I remember moving to Mississippi from Texas when I was in high school and hearing almost legendary tales about this quarterback playing for Alcorn State down in Lorman, Mississippi. This guy had eyes in the back of his head. He had the best reflexes anyone had ever seen. He was a blend of running back, receiver, and linebacker that played QB.
Steve McNair was a son of Mississippi and an absolute god to every black kid in the state. He was a humble leader that simply went out and put on a show every Saturday. There have many times in my life that I reflect back on those high school days and can’t believe how lucky I was to be able to actually watch Steve McNair play in college. I went to see him play four games and each time I came away just shocked at what I had just seen.
In 1994 Steve McNair finished 3rd in the Heisman voting. Yeah, yeah, third huh. He played for a black college, in a black conference, and never really got the accolades he deserved. He threw for 4,800 yards, 44 TDs and only 17 ints. Oh yeah, sorry, he also ran for 936 yards that season. He was good, very good.
After his senior season ended I waited to see how bad the Houston Oilers would do and to see if maybe there was a possibility we could draft Steve McNair. When the Oilers drafted McNair with the 3rd overall pick, I remember telling my dad that this guy would lead us to a Super Bowl. He did. It took a little while, but he did.
Steve McNair was and is my favorite football player of all-time. He embodied everything that was great about the game of football. Whenever he played he left it all out on the field. He led by example; he wasn’t very loud or boisterous, he wanted his playing to speak for him. He was the toughest player I’ve ever seen and he was a QB. I’m not sure anyone has ever said that the toughest player they’ve ever seen was a QB, but he was.
More than a football player, McNair cared for his community and his state. He was constantly giving and looking out for people that he didn’t even know. Of course he was a father, husband, brother and son also, and by all accounts he was great at all of his roles. He was simply an outstanding example of how hard work and perseverance will always pay off.
Steve McNair did make mistakes and one of those mistakes cost him his life. Unfortunately, his children will grow up without their father, his wife will raise her kids as a single mother, and his family will not have Steve around for their family occasions. Its been four years since he was shot and killed by his lover and he’s missed every day.
I choose not to focus on how Steve McNair died, but instead, on how he lived; the way Steve McNair lifted the spirits of an entire state and an entire franchise. His work ethic and undeniable strength to succeed amazed me. His knack for making the big play when it was needed left me in awe. His Super Bowl performance solidified his status as one of the toughest competitors the sport of football has ever seen. He was simply amazing.
I remember the day he died. I remember crying like a little kid. I remember my wife holding me and crying. She knew how much Steve McNair meant to me. I just couldn’t believe what had happened. It still seems very hard for me to wrap my head around. I still have my McNair jersey and I still wear it proudly.
Thank you for all the memories Steve “Air” McNair!
Thank you NFL Network for doing a great piece
What say you?
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