Steve McNair was not a first-ballot hall-of-famer. He was not a Broadway Joe or Brett Favre type of media darling. He did not have Dan Marino or Warren Moon-like passing numbers. He didn't rack up victories like Elway or Montana, but to me, he was the most important man in football. The qualities that Steve McNair possessed were that of the every-man: playing through injuries and pain, sacrificing his body for the greater good of the team, and trying to prove people wrong at every turn.
I first started to really follow football after my Dad passed away in 1996 and Steve was the first player that I really latched on to because he shared many of the same qualities and traits as my dad. When I was younger there were countless time I would wake up to go to school and my dad would be sleeping off a night shift from a construction or welding job, and you knew the only reason he did that grueling work that kept him in pain was to provide for his family. McNair did the same, playing through numerous injuries and continuing to lead his team to victory. What made him stand out on the field to me was that he played QB like a linebacker and was not afraid of contact. Much like my Dad, Steve came from a small town (Addis, La and Mount Olive, MS respectively) and many had doubts that they would ever amount to anything professionally. Just as my Dad had proved his doubters wrong and got his degree from Technical School in his mid 30's, McNair had proved his doubters wrong and led the Titans to a Super Bowl appearance along with winning a co-MVP with Peyton Manning in 2003. And like my father, he also got into troubles along the way but that just made him more human to me. Like my father, Steve McNair possessed a smile that could brighten up a room in an instant, as countless teammates and coaches have noted following his death. Sadly though, he now shares another trait with my Dad, passing away in his 30’s.
In memoriam, I just want to say that Steve McNair was more than a football player to me. He proved that it doesn’t matter where or how you started, but if you continue to try your hardest and put yourself out there you will succeed not only in changing the game, but changing everybody you’ve been around as well. Thank you Steve “Air” McNair, for being an inspiration to me.