Steve McNair

2 minute read
Sean Gregory

One yard. If Steve McNair’s potentially game-tying pass in 2000 to Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson had just reached the end zone–and if the Titans had gone on to beat the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV–we’d be memorializing McNair, who was murdered at age 36 on July 4, as an NFL legend. Instead, we’ll recall the quarterback, who was reared in small-town Mississippi and drafted out of tiny Alcorn State (Miss.) University, as a supremely gifted workhorse who fought through injuries to patch together an outstanding 13-year career. And sadly, what we’ll most remember about Air McNair is the shocking way in which he died.

McNair seemed like a model citizen, a married father of four who was active on the Nashville charity circuit. But when he was found lying dead in his apartment next to his mistress, Sahel Kazemi, that happy portrait was cracked forever. McNair was shot four times; Kazemi also died from a gunshot wound. Authorities confirmed that the deaths were a murder-suicide committed by Kazemi.

At times during his NFL career, McNair was in so much pain that he couldn’t practice. But come Sunday, he’d still suit up and gut out a win. He was a great athlete lost too soon and under unimaginable circumstances.

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