Saturday, July 4, 2009

STEVE McNAIR, 1973-2009: Steve McNair didn't win a Superbowl, but he almost did, riding the Music City Miracle into the Superbowl against the Rams, where Kevin Dyson caught McNair's last-minute pass but fell just short of the end zone. Though famed for his toughness -- McNair frequently played through debilitating pain -- he also suffered an uncommon number of injuries that even he couldn't play through, and that left him playing at less than his peak when he wasn't on crutches. When perfectly healthy, though, he could dominate games, both with his passing (to a cast of mostly unheralded receivers, some of whom McNair turned into second-tier stars) and with a running style that was more brute force than fleet. McNair also devoted considerable time and energy to charity (even after his career ended), in the manner of a person who did it because he wanted to, rather than because it was expected of him. I don't know what went wrong that ended up with someone shooting McNair to death, but I regret more than a bit that a guy who worked as hard as he did in the NFL didn't really get a chance to enjoy his retirement.

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