Back when I was studying in Canada, I was obsessed with watching American football, though not the Canadian one. I liked the NFL so much that I didn’t care about which teams were playing; I’d always watch any game on TV and watch all the highlights. One team was the exception and they were the Tennessee Titans, who have remained my favorite up to now. The leader and best player of the Titans for most of the time I watched them, was found dead Saturday from several gunshots in a condominium. Steve McNair, quarterback of the Titans from 1995 until 2006, was the victim of what many suspect to be a murder-suicide, presumably by his “girlfriend.” In his life, Steve McNair was a straight quality person, full of toughness, resilience, humility and such. All the former teammates, coaches and writers who have spoken or written on his death have described him as humble, classy, dependable, tough and upbeat. No arrogance, material excess or pretentiousness marked his actions in life. It is normal for people to be ‘deified’ or remembered only for good things, often in an exaggerated manner, when they die, but with McNair, watching him play and lead and following him and the Titans in the news, it was very obvious that many of the good things said about him weren’t lies or exaggerations. I’ve always liked teams who do well consistently and who aren’t too popular and receive too much hype in the media, and McNair and the Titans fit that category well.
During the first NFL season that I was a fan, the most popular QBs were Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb and Tom Brady. Steve McNair and the Titans were nowhere to be mentioned, until recovering from a 1-4 start, they went on to win 10 of the next 11 games to reach the playoffs until losing in the AFC Championship Game. McNair would receive a lot of attention for this, especially for being so injured during that time that at one point he missed practice for 5 straight games, and the next season after leading the Titans to the playoffs again, he would win the league MVP award, with the Colts’ Peyton Manning. McNair’s stats were never incredible and neither was his playing style, but what was were his toughness and his wins. I admired his down-to-earth stoic appearance, and coupled with the fact he never appeared in any commercials or earned any big-money contracts just made me respect him even more. I even bought his official Titans jersey, and it remains the only player jersey I’ve ever bought.
Unfortunately his death revealed murkier circumstances of his life. Because in addition to the tragedy of being murdered, McNair was still married to his wife, who he had four sons with, but had been going out with his girlfriend, who at 20 was 16 years younger than him, for several months.
It has to be said that there are many details that have not been confirmed yet, such as whether the girlfriend was the murderer and if there were possible troubles with McNair’s marriage and whether he and his wife were in a period of separation. This does not change the fact that he was in a relationship with someone almost less than half his age and that he was still legally married. Despite the likely circumstances of infidelity and the regrettable impact on McNair’s wife and children, I still have a lot of respect for McNair as a person, in the other areas of his life as a football player, in donating to charities and helping out in community works and the way he carried himself.
His end, shows that no matter how much we may admire somebody who is a public figure and celebrity, we should never deify them because we never know all the main aspects of their lives and character.