This is one of those articles that I hate having to write. It's always tough to say goodbye to someone who touched so many people, but McNair was one of those players who deserves to be remembered.
McNair was found dead today in his Nashville apartment along with a still unidentified woman. He suffered a fatal gunshot wound. No person or persons have been taken into custody yet. This according to espn, and TMZ.com.
Now to business. If you take a look at McNair's NFL career on the surface it may look something like this. He was drafted in 1995 by the then Houston Oilers, who became the Tennessee Titans.
He played with them until 2005. After assuming the starting quarterback position in '97, he led the Titans to four playoff appearances in a five-year span (99,00,02,03).
His teams reached two AFC Championship games, and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIV. McNair was then picked up by the Baltimore Ravens and he helped lead them to their best regular season to date at 13-3, during the 2006 season.
They were subsequently ousted by the Colts in the divisional round of the playoffs. He would hang around for one more year before retiring.
He finished his career as a three time Pro Bowler, and co-MVP in 2003. He threw for 174 touchdowns to 119 interceptions, and had 31,000 passing yards.
His record in the playoffs was 5-5, and despite playing well in the Super Bowl, his team lost thanks to the most famous tackle in history.
That was his career on paper, but really he did so much more than that. He came from a very small school (Alcorn State). He wanted to play quarterback, but in the NFL it was hard for African-Americans to get respect at that position.
He proved so many people wrong. He was not only a prolific passer, but he was very smart with the football. He hated interceptions more than anything else, and was said to be conservative with the ball.
He could also make people pay with his feet, as he often displayed his nimble rushing abilities. I, however, feel that his biggest contribution was his sheer toughness.
Numbers can't describe how the man would routinely put his shoulder pads down and charge right into the heart of the defense. He was fearless, and often touted as being the toughest man on his team.
That's saying something, considering his teams featured players like Jevon Kearse, John Runyan, Derrick Mason and Ray Lewis.
Many people have said that the NFL is too soft. That the NFL wants quarterbacks to wear dresses. I even heard an analyst yelling that football is supposed to be a contact sport.
It's true that today's sports are not the gladiator exhibitions of yesteryear, but it was refreshing to see such a fearless athlete. To see one at the quarterback position was even more surprising.
He was one of the trailblazers of the NFL, and one of the classiest men to ever don a helmet. I don't remember ever hearing his name in the news for something bad or for some misconduct.
No McNair was truly a competitor and a man that will be sorely missed. It truly is an awful day for sports fans.
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