(This story originally ran on June 18, 2016. It's been posted again since Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk announced today the team plans to retire McNair's No.9 jersey).
NASHVILLE — Just like his father did so many times during his playing career, Tyler McNair drew a standing ovation on Saturday night.
The son of late Titans quarterback Steve McNair gave a moving tribute on the night his father was inducted posthumously into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
Tyler McNair, 17, accepted the honor on behalf of his dad, just hours before Father’s Day.
Trent McNair, the son of late Titans QB Steve McNair, speaks on behalf of his father as he was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Saturday evening in Nashville. (Photos: Gary Glenn)
“As our family continues to miss his earthly presence each day, we are reminded that his true legacy is built on the life that he lived and his career, not simply his loss,’’ Tyler McNair said. “With Father’s Day merely hours away let me (say) … thank you to everyone and Happy Father’s Day, Dad. We love and miss you terribly.”
With his mother and younger brother seated at a table in front of him, Tyler McNair fought back tears at one point during a speech that followed a tribute to his father on two video boards in a ballroom at the Omni Nashville Hotel.
Tyler McNair thanked family and friends, and the Titans organization, among others.
Lucille McNair, Steve’s McNair’s mom, was in attendance, along with Steve’s brothers Fred and Jason, and other family members. McNair’s longtime agent, Bus Cook, and Mike Mu, who ran McNair’s foundation, were also there.
Running back Eddie George and guard Zach Piller, McNair’s teammates with the Titans, were also in attendance.
“While he prided himself on being a country guy from Mississippi, the state of Tennessee and especially the Nashville community helped embrace him and us and made it easy for Nashville to become our home, too,’’ Tyler McNair said.
“… The fans, if only you knew how much you meant to our dad. Our dad was once quoted saying, ‘I want No.9 to be known as someone who did everything humanly possible to win a ball game', which is exactly what he did because he played through injuries, illnesses and sometimes even criticism simply because he loved his team and he loved his fans.”
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)
McNair played from 1995-2005 with the Oilers/Titans before playing his final two NFL seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. McNair finished his career with 31,304 yards passing and 174 touchdowns. McNair ran for 3,590 more yards, and 37 touchdowns. He guided the Titans to the organization’s only Super Bowl appearance, Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta at the end of the 1999 season. McNair retired in April 2008.
He died on July 4, 2009.
A photo slideshow showed McNair as a youngster growing up in Mount Olive, Mississippi, and then his playing days at Alcorn State, where he became known as “Air McNair.”
His playing days with the Titans were prominently featured in the clip, with commentary from Titans play-by-play man Mike Keith, the event’s master of ceremonies.
George and Piller spent time with Mechelle McNair and her two sons, Tyler and Trent, who’s 12.
“To see how Tyler has grown – I am looking up to him,’’ George said. “I know those young men have gone through a lot and probably still ask questions. But things happen for a reason and I think they can look at his life and look at what their father did off the field and gain a positive experience from that. From the McNairs, and certainly from Mechelle and his sons, you can feel the love Steve had and how it was shared among everybody.
“I just wanted (be here) to feel the love he generated with being who he was as a man. I wanted to experience that and pay my respects as well.”
Piller said Mechelle McNair called him a few weeks ago and asked him to attend Saturday night’s event. Piller said being there meant a lot to him.
“I miss Steve every day and I love him and his family very much,’’ Piller said. “I am totally honored to have had the opportunity to be in the huddle with him. He set the tone for those teams. It was a special time, and he was a special guy. He had a warrior attitude.”
At one point Saturday night, Tyler McNair reflected on his early childhood, recalling all the buzz his father created on the field and off it. He was confused why fans regularly approached him for autographs, and pictures, while in public.
Looking back, he understands.
“He was just our dad who did regular dad stuff with us,’’ Tyler McNair said. “He never acted like he was anything but just a regular dad. As I continue to get older and reflect back (I understand). He was the definition of a hero – strong, courageous, kind, and a leader.”
TitansOnline.com reflects on special moments with Steve McNair and his family with the Titans. (Donn Jones Photography.com)