Despite the sad nature of his passing, McNair has garnered high praise from former teammates, coaches, fans and media, not only for the player he was, but the man he was. BaltimoreRavens.com has gathered some their sentiments from around the web.
When speaking of his longtime quarterback, Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher expressed his hope that Steve McNair will be remembered for what he accomplished on the field and in the community, not the circumstances that led to his death on Saturday.
Given McNair's body of work, that shouldn't be too hard.
"The Steve McNair that I knew was a great person," Fisher said in a heartfelt press conference on Monday, after returning from the Persian Gulf on the NFL USO Coaches Tour. "He helped put this organized on the map here in Tennessee and put us in our first Super Bowl. I will miss him, as you all will miss him."
Fisher said what he believed McNair would want him to say, expressing the love and gratitude he felt for his family and teammates.
"You just hope and pray that the family's OK. That was my initial thought," McNair's longtime teammate Derrick Mason said somberly in an interview with ESPN the day McNair died. "Rarely do you get an opportunity to play with an individual who has so much passion for the game, and will sacrifice whatever he has to tomake sure his team went out there to win a game. He was one of those rare individuals. For me, it was an honor to play with him."
Former Ravens head coach Brian Billick knew McNair well, both as an ally and adversary. He coached McNair for two seasons and against him for seven others, and while he worries his legacy will be tarnished because of the nature of his death, he knows the impact McNair truly left.
"He was such a great person to be around, Quick to smile and quick to tell a joke," Billick told NFL Network. "[He was] always enjoyable to be around, no matter what the circumstances. [He] always came to work ready to work hard,
But Billick also pointed out that McNair "kept his priorities right," referring to the love he had for his family.
"It's just tough to think that a spirit like Steve McNair not being with us any longer."
"Steve was special and as tough and competitive of a guy that I have ever been around," said former Ravens defensive coordinator and current New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, who was on the same team with McNair as Billick. "He gave our team confidence and I was fortunate to be around him for two seasons. As great of a player as he was, it was more of an honor to know him as a person."
"Steve always came to work with a smile and a joy about him," said McNair's former teammate Bart Scott. "I remember him as a dad that brought his kids to the facility and we all embraced them as our own. Not only will Steve's family miss him, but the entire NFL family has lost a brother."
Members of the media have also honored McNair, noting the impact he had on the NFL as a whole. Len Pasquarelli of ESPN commended McNair for being one of only three NFL draft first-round quarterbacks to come from a historically black college.
"While McNair might quietly have championed the cause of black quarterbacks, it was not a role that he openly flaunted or embraced," wrote Pasquarelli. "But sometimes men adopt a mantle; sometimes, as with McNair, the yoke is loaded upon their shoulders. McNair wasn't totally oblivious to the stereotypes, but he was wise enough to know they existed, and to understand that in many ways he had to be a little better because of them."
Preston wrote that McNair "became the model" for the team when attempting to find its eventual franchise quarterback, which they later did in Joe Flacco. He points out that with McNair's presence, the team now had a better idea of what to look for in a quarterback.
And on top of that, "all he did here was play hard," Preston said. "And the Ravens' defensive players loved McNair.
"He gave a team that had little hope life again. And he finally gave the Ravens a quarterback they could believe in."
Walker hit on the same points, noting the dynamic McNair helped produce a team that went 13-3 in 2006.
"The chemistry was instant as McNair's toughness and character commanded respect and quickly made him a leader in Baltimore's locker room." Walker wrote. He did all this in the twilight of his career, fighting through multiple injuries as he was known for.
The mark McNair left in Baltimore, Tennessee and the NFL is notable. Though many are saddened by his death, they can take Fisher's advice and fill that void with the good memories he made in his 13 years in the NFL.
View BR.com's Steve McNair Retirement Section |Photos