It's been three days since the announcement that former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair was found dead along with his girlfriend Sahel "Jenny" Kazemi in a downtown Nashville-area condo, and the mood of the city is at an all-time low.
McNair's death has the City of Nashville feeling like it has been punched in the stomach by someone wearing a loaded boxing glove.
Before Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star begins to chastise McNair for being human and making a terrible mistake, he must realize that two families have to endure the pain of losing a loved one.
McNair, 36, left behind four sons who will go on living the rest of their lives without the leadership of their father. Outside of being one of the toughest players ever to strap on pads in the NFL, McNair was one of the best African American fathers who was always involved in each of his son's lives, something that has become a rarity in most African American homes.
The Kazemi family, who fled from Iran and settled in Florida, will have to bear the pain of losing a loved one. Many who knew Sahel "Jenny" Kazemi, 20, called her a "sweet girl," and are going to have to wait and see what happens next.
"I hope they find the truth," said Farzin Abdi, a nephew of Kazemi. "I just don't know if this is everything as they say."
Kazemi, who worked at a local Dave & Buster's, became infatuated with the prospect of marrying the former NFL MVP. Tales of her driving McNair's Bentley through the streets of Nashville started to become public as the tragedy at 104 Lea Avenue No. 4 started to make its way across the country. Pictures of the two vacationing and parasailing were posted on TMZ.com on Sunday.
As much as Whitlock wants to crucify McNair in making a poor decision, he must realize that McNair was not only a strong father figure for his four children, but an inspiration for many within the Nashville community.
He opened up a restaurant a few blocks from where I currently live, and I tell you, the Cajun Catfish Sandwich is unbelievable. That same restaurant, Steve McNair's Gridiron9, has become a makeshift memorial to honor the only quarterback in Oilers/Titans history to start in a Super Bowl.
If country music was and continues to be the heart of Nashville, then the Titans, most notably McNair, is the pulse. You can't go anywhere in this city and not see someone wearing a Titans jersey. McNair perspired toughness and had a competitive fire that continuously burned from within.
Throughout most of his career, McNair was put together more times than Mr. Potato Head. During Monday's press conference at Baptist Sports Park, Fisher remembered the tough quarterback that was taken third overall in the 1995 NFL Draft out of Alcott State.
"The Steve McNair that I knew was a great person. He helped put this organization on the map here in Tennessee and put us in our first Super Bowl...I will miss him, as you all will miss him."
Fisher also recalled a time when he was visiting his own son in the hospital in 2005 and seeing the battered and beat-up McNair there on an off-day using a walker, with his wife Mechelle by his side.
"He was there to get an epidural injection in his back just so he could walk and practice that week," Fisher said. "Those types of stories are those that you have never heard of. You witnessed the moments on the field and the comebacks and all those things that made him special."
As much as this tragic ordeal has garnered national coverage, this should not be the lasting impression of McNair.
In his career, McNair has thrown for 31,304 yards and 174 touchdowns. McNair is one of only three quarterbacks (Fran Tarkenton and Steve Young) to throw for over 30,000 yards and rush for 3,500 yards.
So, as much as Whitlock wants to throw McNair under the bus, he needs to understand that McNair was a human who made a costly error.
As new information continues to surface surrounding the deaths of McNair and Kazemi, their relationship will continue to come to light. For now, let their families grieve and give them the time to mourn.
McNair will continue to live within the hearts of all Titans fans and NFL fans. McNair will always be remembered, never forgotten. It would be McNair who was held together by chicken wire and packaging tape that will forever remain the biggest Titans fan!
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