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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Remembering Steve McNair: The 2000 Super Bowl v. The Rams

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The passing via murder of former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair is really hard to take.  It's hard because McNair was a major player in my first Super Bowl: Super Bowl 38 (or XXXVIII) in Atlanta to open the new century in 2000.  I was their as a guest of the NFL as I was working to bring the Super Bowl to Oakland.  (We eventually lost to Jacksonville for the right to host the 2005 Super Bowl.) 

McNair's Titans weren't favored to win that game agains the "Greatest Show On Turf", the St. Louis Rams.  The Rams were blowing-out and steam-rollering opponents that year and there was no indication that wasn't going to be the case in The Super Bowl.

But someone forgot to tell that to the Titans, led by a stalwart defense and Steve McNair.  With the Alcorn State legends fancy footwork, laser passing, and quick decision-making, the Titans stayed within scoring distance of the Rams, then came to one (Titans WR) Kevin Dyson-almost-touchdown-pass of tying the game.  After that who knows who would have won? (Come to think of it, what if Rams WR Issac Bruce had dropped that dramatic 73-yard touchdown catch and run?  It would have been a new game with the Titans having the momentum.) 

What I loved most about McNair was that he was such a leader, such a powerful presence, few reffered to him as a "black quarterback".  No.  McNair was just the quarterback of The Tennessee Titans, and an undispurted leader.  When the Titans drafted Texas QB Vince Young, I thought it was excellent because then McNair would be his teacher, but then he was traded to Baltimore and with that a great pairing for the future came to an end.

Off the field, I assumed McNair was a quiet man who grew up in the South and did not want to make waves. He and former Green Bay Packers QB Brett Farve were the kind of friends who'd go hunting in what I once heard Farve call their three-piece suits: suspenders and overalls.   In fact, I'm very surprised Farve hasn't issued a statement at this time, not even on his website.

McNair will be missed by everyone.  A sad moment in time.

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