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Former Titans Quarterback McNair Killed in Tennessee

Posted Jul 5, 2009

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Former Titans quarterback Steve McNair, who led Tennessee's famous drive that came a yard short of forcing overtime in the 2000 Super Bowl, was found dead Saturday with multiple gunshot wounds in what Nashville police have ruled a homocide.

"We are saddened and shocked to hear the news of Steve McNair's passing today," Titans owner Bud Adams said in a statement. "He was one of the finest players to play for our organization and one of the most beloved players by our fans. He played with unquestioned heart and leadership and led us to places that we had never reached, including our only Super Bowl." 

McNair, a four-time Pro Bowler, led the Titans within a yard of forcing overtime in the 2000 Super Bowl, which they lost 23-16 to the St. Louis Rams. He also played for the Baltimore Ravens before retiring in April 2008.

His most noted drive, the last one in that Super Bowl, came when he led the Titans 87 yards in the final minute and 48 seconds, only to come up a yard short of the tying touchdown. Kevin Dyson caught his 9-yard pass, but was tackled at the 1-yard line by the Rams' Mike Jones.

McNair accounted for all of Tennessee's yards in that drive, throwing for 48 yards and rushing for 14. The rest of the yardage came on penalties against the Rams. Before that, he brought the Titans back from a 16-0 deficit to tie the game.

He was co-MVP of the NFL with Colts quarterback Peyton Manning in 2003.

Manning said in a statement Sunday that he had some great battles with the quarterback.

"Sharing the NFL MVP honor with him in 2003 was special because of what a great football player he was," Manning said. "I had the opportunity to play in a couple of Pro Bowls with him, and the time spent with him in Hawaii I'll never forget. I'll truly miss him."

The Titans drafted Vince Young in 2006 to replace McNair, who had mentored him since he was a teenager. They never played together but did play against each other that year.

"He was like a father to me. I hear his advice in my head with everything I do. Life will be very different without him," Young said in a statement Sunday.

Fred McNair, Steve McNair's oldest brother, said some family members likely will travel to Nashville on Monday to consult with his wife, Mechelle.

"It's still kind of hard to believe," Fred McNair said. "He was the greatest person in the world. He gave back to the community. He loved kids and he wanted to be a role model to kids."

After the news began to spread Saturday afternoon, several people crowded just beyond police tape outside the complex where the shooting took place in the upscale Rutledge Hill neighborhood, some wearing Titans hats. The condominium is located within walking distance of an area filled with restaurants and nightspots, a few blocks from the Cumberland River and within view of the Titans' stadium.

In June, McNair opened a restaurant near the Tennessee State University campus. It was closed Saturday evening, but had become a small memorial, where flowers, candles and notes had been placed outside the door.

On the restaurant's windows were messages: "We will miss you Steve" and "We love you Steve."

A note attached to a small blue teddy bear read, "We will never forget you, Steve. Once a Titan, always a Titan."

"We don't know the details, but it is a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to the families involved," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

McNair's former teammates were shocked and saddened by the news.

"The man had ice running through his veins. He was so cool under pressure, so calm. He never raised his voice, never lost his composure," former Titans running back Eddie George said. "The football thing was one thing and I remember his playing days, but just the human being. He brought so much joy to so many people. He was a consummate pro and he was a gentleman. He was a great father...his legacy will live on.

"If you were going to draw a football player, the physical part, the mental part, everything about being a professional, he is your guy," former Ravens and Titans teammate Samari Rolle said. "I can't even wrap my arms around it. It is a sad, sad day. The world lost a great man today."

McNair became a nationally known college football star playing for Alcorn State, a Division I-AA school in his home state. His performance in the Southwestern Athletic Conference was so dominant, he became a Heisman Trophy contender and national media flocked to the school in Lorman, Miss., to get look at "Air McNair." He still holds the Division I-AA (now known as Football Championship Subdivision) records for career yards passing (14,496) and total offense (16,823).

McNair was the third overall draft pick in 1995 by the Houston Oilers, who eventually became the Titans. He finished his career with 31,304 yards passing and 174 touchdowns. McNair's rugged style led to numerous injuries and aches. He played with pain for several years, and the injuries ultimately forced him to retire.

"On the field, there isn't player that was as tough as him, especially at the quarterback position," said wide receiver Derrick Mason, a former teammate of McNair's in Tennessee and Baltimore. "What I have seen him play through on the field, and what he dealt with during the week to get ready for a game, I have never known a better teammate."

During a five-game stretch at the end of the 2002 season, McNair was so bruised he couldn't practice. But he started all five games and won them, leading the Titans to an 11-5 finish and a berth in the AFC championship game for the second time in four seasons.

McNair played all 16 games in 2006, his first season in Baltimore, and guided the Ravens to a 13-3 record. But he injured his groin during the 2007 season opener and never regained the form that put him in those Pro Bowls.

"I am deeply saddened to learn of today's tragic news regarding the death of Steve McNair. He was a player who I admired a great deal," said New England Patriots senior football adviser Floyd Reese, who was GM of the Titans when McNair played for them. "He was a tremendous leader and an absolute warrior. He felt like it was his responsibility to lead by working hard every day, no matter what."

Titans coach Jeff Fisher was out of the country, taking part in the first NFL-USO coaches tour to Iraq, when he heard the news.

"I am deeply saddened and at this point do not have the words to describe this loss," Fisher told The Tennessean. "It is an extremely emotional moment and I don't have the words to explain how I am feeling. I ask people to please pray for Mechelle and the entire McNair family. This is a tragic moment for his family, and it is a tragic moment for anyone who knew and loved Steve."

Ozzie Newsome, Ravens executive vice president and general manager, said he immediately thought of McNair's four sons.

"This is so, so sad. We immediately think of his family, his boys. They are all in our thoughts and prayers," he said "What we admired most about Steve when we played against him was his competitive spirit, and we were lucky enough to have that with us for two years. He is one of the best players in the NFL over the last 20 years."

Funeral arrangements are expected to be finalized on Monday.

More Information:

Statement From Titans Owner K.S. 'Bud' Adams, Jr. Regarding Steve McNair

Photos: Remembering Steve McNair

Video: Former Titans Great Dead at 36

Video: Eddie George On McNair

Video: Voice Of The Titans Mike Keith On McNair

Video: Former Titans Def. Coord. Gregg Williams On McNair

Titans Remember McNair for Toughness, Leadership

What They're Saying About Steve McNair

A Look Back At The Career Of Steve McNair

McNair's Excellence In The Community Will Long Be Remembered


Share Your Memories Of Steve McNair On The Titans' Official Facebook Page

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