McNair Remembered


From the Associated Press:

Ravens defensive back Samari Rolle(notes), who played with McNair in Tennessee and Baltimore, said, “If you were going to draw a football player, the physical part, the mental part, everything about being a professional, he is your guy. It is a sad, sad day. The world lost a great man today.”

This is so, so sad,” said Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, who worked the trade with Tennessee. “What we admired most about Steve when we played against him was his competitive spirit, and we were lucky enough to have that with us for two years. He is one of the best players in the NFL over the last 20 years.”

McNair played through a myriad of injuries with both the Titans and Ravens, but never lost the desire to win or love for the game.

“Steve was such a happy person,” said Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason(notes), who, like Rolle, played with McNair in Tennessee and Baltimore. “He was always smiling and was always willing to lend a hand to anyone who needed it. I’ve known him for 13 years, and he was the most selfless, happiest and friendliest person I have known.

“It is a devastating day. Steve will always have a place in my heart.”

McNair was traded from the Titans to Baltimore in 2006 for a 4th round pick in the 2007 draft. It was a big move for the franchise as the Kyle Boller experiment simply wasn’t producing the desired results.

The team and the city immediately embraced him as he led the team to a 13-3 record and an AFC North title but fell short in the playoffs against the hated Colts 15-6.

The following season injuries were too much to overcome and could only appear in six games. Baltimore went 2-4 in those games; McNair fumbled eight times, threw four interceptions and only two touchdown passes. Clearly he was done and even though mentally he still wanted to contribute his body would not allow it.

He retired in April 2008 with one year left on his contract with the Ravens.

I remember the move to get McNair having the feeling of being the final piece of the puzzle to push the Ravens to the Super Bowl. The offense which had long been seen as the team’s biggest weakness finally was throwing the ball with some success as they finished 11th in the NFL in passing (214 yds. per game).

It was exciting to watch McNair led the team with such calm and poise as he was a direct contrast to the hyper happy feet of former number draft pick, Boller.

But perhaps my fondest memory of him as a Raven was a Week four contest in 2006 against San Diego. I was sitting towards the end zone in Section 132 and McNair didn’t exactly put together his best game but on the last drive he engineered his second winning drive in as many weeks hitting Todd Heap for the game winning touchdown with 34 seconds left. The way he did it was masterful a 13 yd pass, then he like he’s done so many times in his career scooted out and ran for another 23 yds and then hit another 13 yard pass before the big score. The stands erupted and you couldn’t help but think that this team could be special because they were clearly outplayed by the Chargers that day but were still able to pull it out and it was all because Steve McNair was under center.

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