Titans to Retire Steve McNair's No. 9 and Eddie George's No. 27 Jerseys

The Tennessee Titans will retire a pair of jersey numbers this fall to honor two of the franchise’s all-time greats. 

Quarterback Steve McNair’s No. 9 jersey and running back Eddie George’s No. 27 jersey will be retired in a ceremony during the Sept. 15 home opener against the Indianapolis Colts, Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk announced today. 

“Steve and Eddie will be forever linked as two of the driving forces for our team in the late 90’s and early 2000’s,” Strunk said. “They were the heart and soul of the team and each made the other a better player and ultimately led to a great deal of team success. Their statistics will forever live in our record books, but their play and sacrifice is what our fans will always remember. For that and all that they have done for our team, the number 9 and 27 will be retired with the all-time franchise greats.” 

McNair and George join six other former Titans and Oilers to have their jersey numbers retired: safety/punter Jim Norton (43), defensive end Elvin Bethea (65), running back Earl Campbell (34), guard Mike Munchak (63), offensive lineman Bruce Matthews (74) and quarterback Warren Moon (1). Moon, whose number was retired on Oct. 1, 2006, was the most recent such honoree. 

McNair played 11 seasons with the club (1995–2005), becoming its second all-time leading passer (27,141 yards) and recording more wins as a starter (76) than any other franchise quarterback.  

George spent eight seasons with the team (1996–2003). He is the organization’s all-time leading rusher (10,009) as well as its all-time scrimmage yards leader (12,153). 

During the duo’s time together (1996–2003), the team’s 80-48 record (.625) ranked third in the NFL behind only the Green Bay Packers’ 88-40 record (.688) and the Denver Broncos’ 83-45 (.648) mark. In their eight years as teammates, George and McNair experienced only one losing season, going 7-9 in 2001. They helped engineer the franchise’s only back-to-back 13-3 (or better) seasons from 1999–2000.  

However, their significance during the franchise’s transition from Houston to Nashville was unquantifiable. As their careers blossomed on the field, they became arguably the Titans’ most important ambassadors off the field, gracefully nurturing the NFL’s arrival in Middle Tennessee and making themselves accessible in the community. They helped steady a roster that played in four different home stadiums in four seasons, culminating with the opening of Nissan Stadium and the renaming of the team in 1999. 

The pair’s physicality and toughness became calling cards for the Titans offense. Those two qualities were the building blocks for what became the team’s identity as a whole.  

In the same season the team became the Titans and opened a new stadium, George and McNair were instrumental in the run to Super Bowl XXXIV. Together they experienced four total playoff appearances (1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003), two division titles (2000 and 2002) and two AFC Championship games (1999 and 2002).

McNair trails only Moon (33,685) on the franchise’s all-time passing yards list. He is also second on the career charts in completions (2,305), completion percentage (59.5) and passer rating (83.3), and he is third in touchdown passes (156). As the top rushing quarterback in Titans/Oilers history, he is sixth among all franchise players in rushing yards (3,439) and fourth in rushing touchdowns (36). 

McNair earned three of his four career Pro Bowl berths with the Titans, receiving the honor at the conclusion of the 2000, 2003 and 2005 seasons. In 2003, he shared Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player honors with Peyton Manning after leading the league with a 100.4 rating—the best single-season rating in team history. McNair’s 2003 season totals included 3,215 passing yards with 24 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He became the first African-American quarterback to win the league MVP award. 

McNair played the final two seasons of his career with the Baltimore Ravens (2006–2007) and was named to his fourth Pro Bowl as a Raven in 2006. In his 13 NFL seasons (161 games), he completed 2,733 of 4,544 passes for 31,304 yards, 174 touchdowns and 119 interceptions with a passer rating of 82.8. He added 3,590 rushing yards and 37 touchdowns on 669 rushing attempts.  

Currently, there are three players in the history of the NFL who have passed for 30,000 yards and rushed for 3,500 yards: Fran Tarkenton, Steve Young and McNair. 

Beyond the statistics, McNair perhaps gained equal notoriety for the toughness he exuded and the intangibles he brought to his teams. Despite a well-documented list of injuries, only Brett Favre (154) and Manning (137) started more combined NFL regular season and postseason games than McNair (134) from the time he became a full-time starter in 1997 through 2005. In 1999, he was voted by his teammates as the Ed Block Courage Award winner. In December 2002, three separate injuries—turf toe, strained ribs and a sore back—prevented him from participating in any practice during the month, yet he led the team to a perfect 5-0 record and was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month. USA Today placed him third in its list of “The 10 Toughest Athletes in Sports” in February 2004, behind only Favre and the NBA’s Allen Iverson. 

In the fourth quarter, McNair typically was at his very best. As a member of the Titans franchise, he was credited with 20 game-winning drives in the regular season and postseason, finishing second all-time behind Moon (23). 

A native of Mount Olive, Miss., McNair was selected by the then-Houston Oilers with the third overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft. Prior to his NFL career, the 6-foot-2-inch, 230-pound signal caller attended Alcorn State University, where he became the first player in collegiate history to accumulate 16,000 yards (16,823) of total offense. He passed away on July 4, 2009.  

George, the 14th overall selection in the 1996 NFL Draft, spent the first eight seasons of his nine-year NFL career with the Titans and eclipsed Campbell (8,574 rushing yards) as the franchise’s most prolific runner. His 10,009 rushing yards from 1996–2003 ranked second in the NFL behind only Curtis Martin’s 10,182 yards, while George’s 12,153 scrimmage yards in the same time frame were third behind the totals of Marshall Faulk (14,130) and Martin (12,887). His accolades included four Pro Bowl selections (1997–2000), AP All-Pro honors in 2000 and the AP Rookie of the Year Award in 1996. 

George also leads the franchise in career rushing attempts (2,733), career touchdowns (74), 1,000-yard rushing seasons (seven), seasons as the team’s leading rusher (eight), rushing attempts in a season (403 in 2000) and career playoff rushing yards (776). During his time with the Titans he amassed 36 100-yard rushing performances (second to Campbell’s 39), resulting in a 30-6 record in those contests. 

George enjoyed his greatest statistical success in 2000, when he rushed for 1,509 yards, scored 16 touchdowns (14 rushing, two receiving), totaled six 100-yard rushing performances, and contributed 50 receptions. 

A model of durability and consistency, George started every game he was with the franchise (128). He also established an NFL mark with 130 consecutive starts by a running back to begin a career—a total which ranks second in NFL history for consecutive starts by a running back at any point in a career, trailing Walter Payton (170). Additionally, he is the only running back in NFL history to record 300 or more carries for eight consecutive seasons, and his 403 carries in 2000 are the fifth-most in NFL history for a season.

George finished his career with the Dallas Cowboys in 2004. In 141 total NFL regular season games, he rushed for 10,441 yards and 68 touchdowns on 2,865 carries. He added 268 receptions for 2,227 yards and 10 scores. 

The 6-foot-3-inch, 235-pound George averaged 1,160 rushing yards per season during his nine-year NFL career. Among all players who have played six seasons, only six averaged more rushing yards per season: Barry Sanders (1,527), Jim Brown (1,368), Payton (1,287), Martin (1,282), LaDainian Tomlinson (1,244) and Emmitt Smith (1,224). George, Tomlinson and Eric Dickerson are the only three NFL running backs to rush for 1,200 or more yards in each of their first five NFL seasons. 

A native of Philadelphia, Pa., George attended Ohio State and won the 1995 Heisman Trophy before entering the NFL.

Titans Legends Steve McNair and Eddie George 

A look back at the careers of Titans franchise legends Steve McNair and Eddie George.

A first-round pick (14th overall) by the Houston Oilers in the 1996 NFL Draft, Eddie George became only the second NFL running back to rush for 10,000 yards, while never missing a start, as Tennessee's starter through 2003. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

A first-round pick (3rd overall) by the Houston Oilers in the 1995 NFL Draft, Steve McNair led the Titans to the playoffs four times, including an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIV, while passing for 27,141 yards and 156 TDs in 11 seasons with the franchise. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP, Mike Mu)

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Warren Moon

Warren Moon, the fourth leading passer in NFL history, played 10 years (1984-93) with the organization and holds the franchise records for passing yards (33,685) and touchdowns (196), while leading the Oilers to seven consecutive playoff appearances from 1987-93. Moon’s finest season came in 1990, throwing for 4,689 yards (363-for-584) and 33 touchdowns in only 15 games and becoming the third player in NFL history to produce consecutive 4,000-yard passing seasons. He earned AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year for his efforts and his third Pro Bowl berth. His jersey was retired in a halftime ceremony in Nashville on Oct. 1, 2006.

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Earl Campbell

Earl Campbell, the franchise’s second leading rusher and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was honored by having his number retired at ceremonies on Aug. 13, 1987. He set a single-season club record with a league-leading 1,450 yards his rookie season. Campbell followed that performance with 1,697 yards in 1979 and an astounding 1,934 yards in 1980. Both those totals led the NFL and the latter was second only to O.J. Simpson’s 2,003 yards in 1973. Campbell was selected to five Pro Bowls (1978-81, 1983) and retired as the NFL’s seventh all-time leading rusher (9,407). He ranks second in franchise history in career rushing yards (8,574) and attempts (1,979), first in touchdown runs (73) and first in most consecutive games with a rushing touchdown (5).

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Jim Norton

Jim Norton played nine seasons for the Oilers (1960-68) as a safety and as a punter, establishing team records at both positions. As a rookie from the University of Idaho, Norton was a member of the Oilers’ 1960 AFL Championship team. A four-time league all-star, he holds the club record for most interceptions in a career with 45. Also an accomplished punter, Norton was tops in club history with 519 career punts for a 42.3-yard career average and a long kick of 79 yards (11/22/64 vs. Kansas City).

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Mike Munchak

Mike Munchak joined the Oilers as a first-round draft pick in 1982 out of Penn State. He was the first offensive lineman selected in the draft and the eighth overall selection. Munchak won the starting left guard position as a rookie and went on to play in 12 campaigns (1982-93) and 159 games (156 starts) for the Oilers. He is tied for third on the team’s all-time list for seasons played and ranks fifth in games played. Munchak became a fixture on an offensive line that helped the Oilers to seven consecutive playoff appearances (1987-93). One of the premier guards in the National Football League, Munchak was selected to NFL’s “Team of the Decade” for the 1980s and was chosen in 1989 to Oilers’ 30th Anniversary “Dream Team.” He ranks second in club annals with nine Pro Bowl selections, seven as a starter. Munchak announced his retirement on July 21, 1994, and on the same day, K.S. “Bud” Adams, Jr,. announced that jersey No. 63 would be retired on “Mike Munchak Appreciation Day” on Nov. 6, 1994.

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Elvin Bethea

Elvin Bethea joined the Oilers in 1968 after an outstanding career at North Carolina A&T. He started at defensive end in the 1968 season opener and didn’t miss a game until breaking his arm in November 1977. That streak of 135 consecutive games played stands third in team history. An eight-time Pro Bowler (1970, 1972-76, 1978-80), Bethea ranks second for most seasons played (16, 1968-83), while his 210 games played (1968-83) also stands second behind Bruce Matthews. Bethea led the team in sacks six times, including a career-best mark of 17 in 1973. The Oilers honored him with an “Elvin Bethea Appreciation Night” on Aug. 4, 1983. He became the sixth player in franchise history to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 3, 2003.

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Bruce Matthews

Bruce Matthews played in more games (296) than any non-kicker in NFL history. Longevity and durability were his hallmark. And that, coupled with his unparalleled play, in which he tied a league record with 14 Pro Bowl selections (tied with Merlin Olsen) and earned All-Pro honors six times, made him one of the all-time greats. He rose to the challenges presented to him in playing every position on the offensive line during his NFL career (87 at center, 99 at left guard, 67 at right guard, 22 at right tackle, and 17 at left tackle). His number was retired during a halftime ceremony in Nashville on Dec. 8, 2002.

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