Some Speculation on a McNair Motive


First off, this whole thing is still more than surreal. I know that there’s been a lot of national coverage focusing on both Steve McNair’s career and murder, but here in Nashville this is the biggest “news story” that I’ve observed in my 16 years living here. For the last three days, every second of air time on local sports radio has been consumed by broadcasters, former colleagues and callers expressing their loss, support and disappointment. Regardless, everyone given airtime has been truly effected by Steve McNair on very real levels- whether it was a personal relationship or just what he meant to the community both on and off of the field.

As the various levels of grieving have been taking place throughout the city, new glimpses as to what happened have simultaneously been illuminated (Nick layed out a timeline earlier today that encompasses the majority of that information). The Metro Nashville Police Department has been very cautious (rightfully so) about not jumping to conclusions about what happened. This is probably due to a combination of this being the highest profile murder case that the department has ever had on it’s hands and a number of circumstances that don’t align with the “typical” murder-suicide. The predominant factor lacking in almost instantly classifying this crime as a murder-suicide is the lack of a clear motive.

It probably goes without saying that over the last few days Nick and I at Titan Sized and a number of our friends have discussed all of this extensively, and it seems like there is a broad scenario that at least seems to make some sense to a number of us. I should warn that I’m getting into some territory that gives many bloggers a bad name: the act of “publishing” speculation or hearsay as if it were fact. Please note that I’m not relaying anything that wasn’t ascertained from the Metro Police Department or the AP as “fact.”  The following merely posits a possible motive for the presumable actions of Sahel Kazemi in a case where the evidence so far seems to point to her taking her own life as well as that of McNair.

Medical examiner Bruce Levy said that many of the factors associated with a murder-suicide, “concerned family members or police reports and protection orders ,” were missing from this case. This has been corroborated by statements from a number of Kazemi’s friends and family who described her as not only being in love, but also expecting McNair to divorce his wife to marry her. Kazemi’s nephew, Farzin Abdi, said “There was no way she was depressed and wanting to do this,” he said. “She was so happy. … She just had it made, you know, [with] this guy taking care of everything.” According to Abdi she had also put her furniture on Craigslist, with the presumption that she would soon move in with McNair (something of which I’ve heard no follow-up on).

On a lot of levels it seems as if McNair had little to no concern about this relationship being public, seeing that a number of people were quite aware of it. Both McNair and Kazemi’ s neighbors were quite familiar with seeing the other at their respective residences to the extent that one of Kazemi’s neighbors thought McNair lived there. Kazemi’s co-workers at Dave and Busters also seemed to be familiar with the relationship when she didn’t show up to work on the Saturday that they were found. The couple even took multiple vacations together in their brief time dating, with a number of photographs showing up on the web. I’ve got no reason to think that Kazemi and her family weren’t led to believe that she and McNair had a legitimate relationship that he made no apparent effort in covering up.

The knowledge of their relationship by the aforementioned is contrasted, however, by what many people close to McNair didn’t know. Of the people intrinsically tied to McNair that were interviewed after his death only his roommate, Wayne Neeley (the man who found the bodies), and his longtime friend and former college teammate, Robert Gaddy (who called 911 approximately 45 minutes after the bodies were found) were familiar with the relationship. McNair’s wife and family, agent and countless others who had been in continuous contact with McNair over the years had no knowledge of the affair. The following theory supposes that McNair might have attempted to keep it that way, or at least create some distance between himself and Kazemi.

Much of this deals with the time line. Kazemi was arrested for a DUI early Thursday morning, with McNair and another individual as passengers. McNair and the other passenger were allowed to leave in a taxi, and McNair posted Kazemi’s bail shortly thereafter. I think that there’s a good chance a few things became painfully obvious to McNair at that point. Primarily that his affair would become very public, very soon.

McNair wasn’t just a married man riding in a vehicle operated by an under-aged driver charged with a DUI. He was a passenger in a vehicle registered in the name of both him and his mistress, all of which is public record. In a city as small as Nashville, it’s almost surprising that the traffic stop wasn’t news before McNair and Kazemi’s untimely deaths. It makes plenty of sense to me that this event would serve as some form of “wakeup call.” Again, I’ve got no reason to doubt that Kazemi expected a long future with McNair, with McNair doing nothing to quell that notion. I do think, though, that there’s a good chance that when McNair was confronted with the reality of this being public without any plausible deniability, he tried to either break off the relationship, or greatly change what she expected from it.

We might not ever know what exactly happened, but what we do know is that less than 24 hours after Kazemi’s arrest she purchased a gun. Little over 24 hours after that purchase, Kazemi and McNair were found dead.

Nothing has been ruled out, but it’s looking more and more like the evidence will point to Kazemi having had taken both lives. As it’s been alluded to in a number of places, if that is indeed the case, there’s a very good chance that we will never know anything more than an approximation of what happened. We all want to know exactly what took place, but even if we know what and when, we don’t necessarily know why. At this point, if Kazemi is deemed responsible, the best I can surmise is that Kazemi and McNair’s relationship took a drastic turn, and the DUI would seem to be a logical turning point.

With the information we have, this scenario seems to give a logical motive to Kazemi while still operating within the bounds of the evidence widely accepted and reported thus far. There’s certainly some more information on it’s way over the course of the next week or two. Who knows,  something we would never would have guessed might surface in the near future, but at this point it seems unlikely.


For other perspectives:

Sports by Brooks seems to feel pretty confident that this crime is a double murder, and implicates Kazemi’s ex-boyfriend.

The Sporting News’ Spencer Hall responds to the internet’s coverage of the McNair murder in an appropriately indignant way. The above link is explicitly mentioned, and I can only assume that he would have issues with the liberties taken in this post. Either way, his opening quote is the only line from the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus that I can truly say that I understand, so I appreciate at least that much.