July 5, 2009
On Remembering Steve McNair I can't help but think of how much of an impact his life and career left on the NFL.
Steve McNair wasn't a flashy stat guy, he didn't come from a large school with a strong "football program", he was black, and he played quarterback, and in the 90's while others before him had laid the foundation, the path for him was far from clear. But in 1995 after being drafted by the Houston Oilers, who would go on to become the Tennessee Titans, McNair was ready to learn. Entering into the league with natural athletic ability McNair wasn't ready for the bright lights that the NFL placed at his feet but he was ready to work hard to earn the respect other QB's around him enjoyed. And it was that hard work despite his lack of football pedigree that earned him three trips to the Pro Bowl, an MVP award and a Super Bowl appearance which marked the second for an African American QB in the NFL.
Today, as I sat here watching ESPN waiting for more details to pour in about his mysterious and tragic death the sentiments repeated from the many players and sports commentators around the league were the same. McNair was a warrior who was mentally tough, and went into every game despite the odds with the heart of a lion. McNair was determined to master the position of QB so that he could help the Titans become the dominate team they would eventually become as he led them to Super Bowl XXXIV. It's easy to assess that without Steve McNair there would be no Donte Culpepper, Donovan McNabb, Vince Young or even Michael Vick...but after McNair all of those players had a little more added to the road they were traveling.
McNair accomplished a lot in the NFL despite having average numbers and stats. His peers however all respected his work ethic and the man he was on and off the field. His opponents knew that when they lined up opposite him on Sunday's they would be tested early and often. Some people leave their legacies in the unlikeliest of ways and McNair was one in which this was true. People will remember him for what he meant to the game of football and the many doors he opened because of his hard work and leadership on the field. Future players drafted from small schools will use his performance and what he did on the field as proof that with the right player and focus great things can happen.
So how can we use McNair's example in our own lives because you all know I live to showcase the parallels of life and sports. You don't HAVE to be "listed" as the best at what you do so don't be discouraged by the success of others around you who may be recognized as better. Just know that if you work hard at being the very best you can be others will recognize your personal impact and honor you for it. Create your own impact as Steve McNair did and master it to suit your situation as he did with the Titans. Don't always focus on what the prototype of success asks us to be tailor it to fit what you define as success and others will remember for it. An impact can only be felt if one is left!
Life is short people so live everyday as if it were your last! Make an impact today!
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