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Requiem for a Titan

As you probably have seen over the news, the sports world lost one of the better men around. Steve LaTreal McNair was many things. To the sports world, he was probably one of the more uniquely talented quarterbacks around. To his fellow football players, he was the coolest customers around. To the city of Nashville, he was our friend. He was the Titans.

McNair was born in Mt. Olive, MS. As a teenager, he was a four sport letterman in football, baseball, basketball and track. He was also a pretty stout athlete, as he played QB and Free Safety. A unique thing, was that McNair was almost a Seattle Mariner, had he elected to stay in baseball.

Steve elected to go to college at Alcorn State, which was a little known D-II (now FCS) school. In his soon to be typical form. McNair raised his game, along with the collective game of his team. This proved to raise him to 3rd in the Heisman Trophy voting for the 1994-95 season.

As a number three pick by new Houston Oilers coach, Jeff Fisher, McNair was selected to be the QB of the Oilers future. He would spend his first two seasons behind Chris Chandler, who was one of the top rated quarterbacks of the time. Only when Chandler started to succumb to injuries, did McNair see his playing time increase.

By 1997, Steve was the starting QB. Paired up with new RB, Eddie George, both men became a running threat to defenses across the league. And Steve started to achieve the numbers of another Oilers legend, Warren Moon. This was the start of the legendary Air McNair.

The one reason that the State of Tennessee fell in love with McNair was the 2000 season. This season, which culminated with the Music City Miracle and ended with Super Bowl XXXIV against the Rams. McNair and the Titans didn't win the game. In fact, we still agonize over “One More Yard.” But McNair was there to stay. We thought.

The second biggest agony in Tennessee history, is when McNair was “pushed aside” in favor of starting Vince Young. Most Titans fans, in their own ways, still bemoan the decision to even want to start Vince Young. However, the fans still revered and respected Steve. Even if he went to the team of the enemy, the Baltimore Ravens.

When he retired last year, we didn't know what to expect from him. When he returned to Nashville, and declared himself “back home.” The city was in a bit of shock, but we welcomed him back with open arms. We knew that Steve made his share of mistakes, including his DUI arrest in 2006.

However, we forgave him. Because he admitted, even as a star, he was still human. And sometimes, Steve was too human. He was the calmest man in the room. He called you friend, whether he knew you or not.

He opened up his new restaurant, Gridiron 9, just last month. And I also remember seeing him and talking to him at the restaurant. He still remembered the kid he met back in 1999. And we talked about how I accidentally bumped into him at Bellvue Mall, in a hurry. I also remember how I met Eddie George in that same manner.

So, why are we now at this point? None of this makes sense. The story of McNair and another woman killed? It still isn't processing to my city. And it isn't processing to me at all... Somehow, I don't think it ever will.

As I sit here, holding back the emotions I feel with the city of Nashville. I hate to put it as such, but we lost our quarterback. Our iron man. The one man who made us believe.

It is said, that people will only remember the last hours of someone's life. I hope for McNair's sake, that doesn't apply. That we'll remember the whole of his 36 years on this earth. Not this senseless killing, but the whole life of a man who was larger than life. However, the same man who wanted the fans to be with him.

The same fans who now wonder... Why?
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McNair is definitely, hands down, the greatest QB in the history of the Titans/Oilers franchise. I think with hindsight being 20/20 now, me thinks it is safe to say the Titans screwed up with Vince. Or at the very least, sending Steve packing for Vince. (See Arizona, they kept Kurt and have Matt learning. The New Show On Turf will be running for years to come.)

Steve helped the Ravens to 13 wins the year after that trade, Vince is fighting Kerry Collins to avoid being a high paid cheerleader. Perhaps the first real sign of adversity exposed Vince as not the heralded leader we thought he'd be coming out of Texas.

Fatal Attraction ends fatally for Air McNair. Sad.

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