The news of Steve McNair found murdered in his home over the weekend was, without a doubt, completely unexpected. Football was one of those sports that didn't quite jell with my inner sanctum until high school. Once it it stuck, he was one of the first players that I absolutely enjoyed watching on the field
The year was 1999. I had my first taste of fantasy football, and thought it wise to draft Steve Young No. 1 overall. This turned out to be a poor idea, but I wasn't penalized by another boring Super Bowl. We were all treated to the St. Louis Rams, the birth of Kurt Warner's career, and a never-say-die attitude by the Tennessee Titans and their scrambling quarterback.
When McNair lost the Super Bowl by one yard, it was the perfect Hollywood ending to a sports tragedy. It certainly wasn't the end to McNair's career, picking up co-MVP honors four seasons later. He ultimately established himself as a football player who, as someone with no real favorite team (c'mon, the Lions?), became one of my favorite athletes for a couple seasons since the man, who gave it all every down, was extremely easy to root for.
Mostly all of my thoughts on McNair were summarized pretty well three years ago, when he was about to join the Baltimore Ravens. Once he did, I swore they would win another Super Bowl. Again, I'm bad at making football predictions. (See: Young, Steve.)
The details of McNair's death will obviously spew forth from the media as time goes by, not to mention how this mystery girl, found dead with him, affected McNair's life. He leaves behind a wife and four children, which is the real tragedy here.
Should it be found McNair's "friend" was as non-literal as "friend" can get, then it plays back into the Michael Jackson Theory Of Respectability. You can love his work and, at the same time, absolutely not respect the way he handles himself anywhere else.
We don't necessarily admire athletes for the kind of person they are. Whether that separation is justified or selfish, in the end we just want to watch some great action, and a football game featuring McNair always proved to be the case.