Monday, July 6, 2009

Air McNair? Say it Ain't So..

Steve McNair was murdered yesterday. Whether he was shot by his mistress (though all signs point in that direction) or someone else has yet to be determined, but that doesn't really have any impact on the fact that the 36 year old quarterback is dead. I know that countless other articles have been written or will be written about this tragedy and almost all of which will come from experts and insiders, people that knew McNair or have access to the people that did. Hell, I'm not even a Titans fan (my brother is, though). I am a football fan, however, and, as you may have noticed, I tend to spend most of my time analyzing quarterbacks. This site is named after Kyle Orton, but I've written countless about Rex Grossman, Jay Cutler, Juice Williams, Cade McNown, that bastard Favre, and dozens of other quarterbacks. Out of the many signal callers I've watched in my lifetime, McNair ranks right up there with the best of them.

McNair was accurate (60.1% comp %), he had a lower interception % than Peyton Manning, he was a proven winner (91-62), and most notably, despite battling injuries most of his career, from the time he was made a full time starter in 1997 until he volunteered to take the bench in Baltimore during a rebuilding year in 2007, he only played in fewer than 14 games twice, once in 2004 when he shut it down and only played 8 games for a rebuilding Titans team that went 5-11 that year, and before that in 1999, when he missed a few early season games but returned to go 9-2 and lead his team to the Superbowl. Most fans remember that Superbowl run by the Titans, from the Music City Miracle against the Bills all the way up until their last drive against the Rams, when the Titans, having previously rallied from a 16-0 deficit to tie the game, came up just one yard short of tying it once more at 23 and sending it to overtime. No one that saw that game will ever forget McNair tossing the ball to Kevin Dyson and watching him struggle to find the end zone. Hell, after the trade from the Titans (in which nearly every one in the league cried out against the Titan's mistreatment of an icon), he even managed to give the Ravens a year with a decent passing game, and that alone is a worthy accomplishment.

Off of the field, McNair had a sterling reputation. He donated to countless charities, ran dozens of football camps, and was well loved throughout the state of Tennessee and the NFL. Sadly, the shady circumstances of his death will forever mar that reputation. Already the mono-IQ'd commenters on the articles describing McNair's death at places like Yahoo! Sports or NFL.com are spewing bile like "he got what he deserved for cheatin!" from underneath their bare light bulb, and that's a damn shame.

I don't know McNair's wife, or 99.9% of the details of his personal life. I can probably venture a guess that between the vacations he went on with his mistress, the car he registered her name in, and the fact that him and his wife were fairly frequent diners at the restaraunt where she was a waitress, Mrs. McNair wasn't exactly oblivious to her existence. I don't really think that excuses adultery, but it makes it one hell of a grey area when one tries to consider how wrong Steve McNair's actions may have been. I certainly don't think that some moron somewhere should somehow make 2+2=5 and decide that McNair's "good guy" status in the NFL, his contributions on the field, or his outstanding work in the community are all rendered moot by some personal failing in an unrelated area of his life. It's sure as hell not gonna change any memories I have of watching him on Sundays.