login | Register

The Shocking Loss of Steve McNair

Posted: Jul 05, 2009

So there I was in Nashville- relaxing by the water with friends on the 4th of July like most of us like to do. Then I heard something that made the festive holiday mood fade quickly; “Steve McNair had been shot”. Could this really be, or maybe it was just bad information? After making a call, I found out that news was not only true but even worse; Steve McNair had been killed. I spent the next three or four hours receiving calls and texts about the former Titans great. Throughout the evening, everywhere you went in Music City, the conversation was about #9.

It’s not often that an entire major city is seemingly talking about one subject. Sports dialouge is a huge part of my life, but it does not usually resonate throughout an entire urban and surrounding area. July 4th was different. Everywhere I went on Saturday, strangers just started having conversations about McNair. Whether it was a memory of an amazing play on the field or the time they met him, people all seemed to have a great story or two about the three-time Pro Bowler. As I listened more, it was obvious that McNair’s appeal was bigger than just the gridiron accomplishments. I think longtime Tennessean columnist David Climer says it best when he calls McNair “one of us.”

McNair was part of our Swampland footprint in high school, college, and the NFL. His humble Mississippi upbringing always stayed with him, no matter how many Pro Bowls and dollars came his way. One thing you constantly heard from fans around our region is that McNair, much like fellow Mississippi signal caller Brett Favre, “never forgot where he came from”. That’s a quality that means so much in the South and resonates with people for a lifetime.

Most of us first heard about McNair during his record-setting days at Alcorn State. The national media recognized him as more than just a 1-AA player with big numbers when he finished third in the Heisman voting in 1994. He was chosen as the third pick in the NFL Draft by Houston, and then moved on with the franchise to Nashville. McNair had to be patient before getting his chance to start, but hard work led to him getting his chance in Tennessee. The legend of #9 started to grow during the Titans magical 1999 season, and it became huge in January of 2000 when he led Tennessee to the franchise’s first Super Bowl, by defeating the Jaguars (for the third time that season) 33-14. Of course, he led the team to that great comeback against the Rams in the Super Bowl, before falling one yard short.

There were other great McNair memories. When you have 31,000+ passing yards and 3,500+ rushing yards, fans have plenty of spectacular games and plays from which to pick their favorite. But one game that seems to define #9 was the amazing comeback against the Giants in 2002, when a battered McNair (who didn’t practice all week) led the Titans to an improbable 32-29 overtime victory. It always seems to come back to the toughness and resiliency of McNair. Even though he was a quarterback, teammates and opponents considered him the ultimate tough guy as he played with a linebacker’s mentality. Once again, that’s a quality that sticks with people for more than a few football seasons.

We also have to recognize the numerous awards McNair won for his community service, both in Nashville and Mississippi. He was never that rich athlete making a scheduled charity appearance for personal recognition. Having lived and covered sports in Nashville, I can say that he legitimately wanted to be a real factor in his region and did so time and time again with heartfelt contributions. His effort to get supplies and aid to Katrina victims from Nashville to the Gulf Coast in 2005 was truly heroic.

McNair leaves quite the legacy of toughness and hard work both on and off the field, and he will be missed greatly throughout the Swampland footprint. Once again, #9 was “one of us”.

--Patrick Snow

related tags

Tribal Fever,
Southern Pro Football,
West Virginia,
South Carolina,
North Carolina,

Wireless from AT&T


michaelbuffalo says...

Man Patrick, I too was blown away by the news of Steve's death. What a player. I had met him one time and shook his hand and he was truly a gentleman. All of this death in sports and entertainment has just worn me down lately. #9 Forever. Buff

Please login or you can to leave a comment.

If you aren't registered, Register Now to start leaving comments.

Copyright 1998-2018 by Swampland Inc. All rights reserved.