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Steve McNair ( 1973 - 2009 )  Category ( Athletes ) [suggest a correction]

Steve McNairThey called him Air McNair, but Steve McNair's professional football legacy was not so much as a prolific passer but the quintessential tough guy, a player who seemed more like a linebacker than a quarterback.

Year after year, McNair trotted onto the field on Sundays despite being listed as "doubtful" with a series of nagging injuries. It was perhaps no accident that his wife, Mechelle, was a nurse and often attended to his aches and pains.

"He played with unquestioned heart and leadership and led us to places that we had never reached," said Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams after McNair was murdered on the fourth of July in 2009.

"Whar we admired most about Steve..." said Baltimore Ravens' general manager Ozzie Newsome, "was his competitive spirit."

McNair was found shot to death in a Nashville condo along with Sahel Kazemi,with whom he was having an extramartial relationship. The official police report stated that Kazemi shot McNair three times - most probably while he was asleep on the couch - and then killed herself with a single shot to the temple. The 9-mm pistol had been purchased by Kazemi, and gunpowder residue was found on her hand.

The Mount Olive, MS native had retired from pro football as a member of the Baltimore Ravens in 2008.

Born in Mount Olive on Feb. 14, 1973, McNair was a high school All-American and broke dozens of national passing records at Division 1-AA Alcorn State University. In 1992, he threw for 3,541 yards and 29 touchdowns; in 1993, more than 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. As a senior, he finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Rashaan Salaam and Ki-Jane Carter, unheard-of for a player below the Division 1-A level.

Drafted by the Houston Oilers in 1995, McNair played sparingly the first two years before taking over as the starter in 1997, the team's first year in Tennessee. In 1999, despite missing a number of games with an inflamed disc, he led the renamed Titans to the Super bowl, losing to the St. Louis Rams when a pass completion from McNair to Kevin Dyson was halted just short of the goal line.

In 2002, Tennessee again reached the AFC title game, but lost to Oakland, 41-24. The week before, McNair had thrown for 338 yards in a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

McNair signed as a free agent with Baltimore following the 2005 season, and his fiery leadership propelled the Ravens into the playoff semi-finals. The following season he missed 11 games because of injuries and decided to retire.

At the time of his death, McNair divided his time between Nashville and his Mississippi farm. He was survived by his wife and four children, two of them with Mechelle.

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