Many in the world of football, sports, and certainly the Titans, give pause from family barbecues, fireworks purchases and a day of relaxing, to think about what happened on this holiday 10 years ago.
Where did the time go?
Where were you, when you heard the news that former Titans QB Steve McNair had passed and in a horrible way?
These are thoughts that bounce around my mind EVERY 4th of July for the last 10 years.
I’ve often described it as the worst holiday of my adult life.
The 4th of July 4, 2009 was hot and muggy as it usually is this time of year in Nashville. That particular day it got warm enough that Middle Tennessee had a severe weather outbreak with tornado warnings that hot July afternoon.
Our family had been notified that a family in our church had lost a very young daughter to a tragic auto accident on I-40 near Bellevue just an hour or so after we’d all learned about the news of Steve McNair’s death.
The events of that day were etched into my mind, and always will be.
I think about the night I interviewed the older brother of Steve McNair. Tim McNair was one of Steve’s favorite targets at Alcorn State University and Tim explained how the athleticism all the McNair boys were gifted with came from their Mother Lucille.
Lucille was a good basketball player in High School and Tim McNair was quick to give credit to his Mother.
Lucille raised all 5 of her sons from the time Steve McNair was 8 years old. She’d work the graveyard shift at the local electronics plant near tiny town of Mt. Olive Mississippi.
Miss Lucille would come home from work to see the McNair boys eat breakfast, do their chores and head off to school each day.
On the 4th of the July, I think about the night I interviewed Miss Lucille many years ago. From the front porch of the “Air McNair Ranch”, she would tell me the story of how the very property that contains the 9,000 square foot home and acreage is the same place she would pick cotton as a young girl many years before. Miss Lucille described the moment that Steve took her out to see the property and the place he’d bought for her to live on. She wept openly about how she knew immediately where they were and how Steve had known about how hard she’d worked and that she would never have to again.
I will remember the pain in her voice and the voices of his family, friends, team mates and his former Head Coach Jeff Fisher at the funeral for Steve McNair.
I will remember the laundry list of injuries Steve suffered in his time with the Titans.
The ankle, rib cage, the shoulder, the dislocated fingers, the calf injury and yes, the sternum injury.
I will remember the breathtaking moments he’d lay his body on the line for the two-tone blue.
The time he came in for an injured Neil O’Donnell to beat Pittsburgh, the time he beat the Giants in the Meadowlands in 2002, the time he ran for 71 yards on Sunday Night Football in Tampa to defeat the Buccaneers, the time he ran for 51 yards in the AFC Championship game to put the Jaguars away for good, the time he shook off Rams Defensive linemen Kevin Carter and Jay Williams like Houdini and hit Kevin Dyson for a 16 yard strike in Super Bowl XXXIV.
I will remember the sight of him crying in the locker room after losing to the Rams by one yard.
I will remember the pre-game naps, and they definitely happened.
I will remember that million dollar smile.
I will remember how two young sons Trent and Tyler, would play in Dad’s locker and in the Titans locker room.
I will remember that January day in Baltimore at the visiting team hotel, where Steve McNair would address the media after being named the Co-MVP of the NFL.
Wherever you are on the 4th of July and you are a Titans or Steve McNair fan, you will always remember.
You will remember his Mother Lucille, his brothers Fred, Jason, Michael and Tim, his Wife Mechelle and children Steven LaTreal McNair Jr., Steven O’Brian McNair, Trenton and Tyler McNair.
On September 15, 2019 we will remember again, as Stephen LaTreal McNair will have his jersey number officially retired with the number 27 of Eddie George.
We will remember #9.