No man can ever replace what Steve McNair meant to the Titans franchise. He took them from Houston to Memphis to Nashville, providing a stable face to a franchise that was in upheaval.
Two other prominent members from the organization McNair helped define spoke about losing him Saturday.
Wideout Derrick Mason, now with the Ravens, grew with McNair from a special teamer into the team’s leading receiver.
“We were very close,” Mason said. “We built a close bond throughout the ten years we played together that not too many people can build. . . . It’s shocking to me. It’s hard to believe.”
Mason was asked by ESPN what made McNair special.
“His passion for the game. How relentless he was. . . . He was probably the toughest quarterback that’s played. I think
that’s what he will be remembered by on the football field – his
Off the field, McNair was a popular figure among teammates, coaches, and the media. He impacted the community of Nashville with a wide variety of charity work.
“He was a guy who was happy,” Mason said. “He would give you the shirt off his back if he could. Very generous. That’s what made him special. I knew if he could help you, he would.”
Executive Floyd Reese, now with the Patriots, drafted McNair third overall out of Alcorn State when he was G.M. of the then-Oilers. Reese released a statement Saturday.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of today’s tragic news regarding the death of Steve McNair. He was a player who I admired a great deal. He was a tremendous leader and an absolute warrior. He felt like it was his responsibility to lead by working hard every day, no matter what.
“I don’t think there was a player who played with him or against him that didn’t look up to him and respect him. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family, his friends and the many teammates who loved and admired him.”
A co-MVP in 2003, McNair’s stature and respect among those close to the game may exceed his exploits on the field. That’s why the sudden and tragic nature of his death will resonate so strongly.