This series will look back on the Tennessee Titans franchise. Players, coaches, etc. will be showcased in each installment.
The Houston Oilers used their number three overall selection in the 1995 NFL Draft on a franchise quarterback. In a Draft class that included future Hall of Famers Warren Sapp, Ty Law, Derrick Brooks, and Curtis Martin, the team looked to none other than Alcorn State in Mississippi for their guy, Steve Mcnair, affectionately known by Titans faithful as Air McNair.
Mcnair’s college career was one for the ages, especially the season that preceded the Draft. Mcnair set an NCAA record of 5,799 total offensive yards. 4,863 of that through the air. His season-ending quarterback rating was an astounding 155.4. But he finished third in the Heisman voting, due in large part to him playing for a smaller, lesser-known school, it didn’t prevent 111 of the award voters from voting for him.
Through his first two NFL seasons, he only started a total of six games, going 4-2. The murmurs around the league were beginning to call him yet another first-round quarterback bust. His third season, the organization’s first in Tennessee, the signal calling duties were his alone for the next nine seasons for the Titans, and his final two NFL seasons he took his talents to Baltimore and the Ravens.
In those nine seasons in Nashville, McNair was selected to three Pro Bowls. He posted a 76-55 as the Titans starting quarterback. He compiled over 27,000 passing yards and 156 touchdowns. McNair also rushed for 36 touchdowns and over 2,700 yards. McNair split the 2003 MVP Award with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. Likely the paramount of his playing career came in Super Bowl 34, against Kurt Warner and, the Greatest Show on Turf, the Rams. He led his team to a potential game-tying drive, that ended just one yard short of forcing the game to go into overtime.
.@Titans QB Steve McNair was a human highlight reel. #RIPAirMcNair #TBT pic.twitter.com/XUFjpp2u9y— NFL Throwback (@nflthrowback) November 17, 2017
Throughout his career, McNair battled a bevy of injuries, many that were attributed to his playing style. But unlike many of the players of his era and those of other eras, if McNair could stand, he was on the field. He epitomized a true leader.
Steve McNair was a warrior (RIP). Not that his willingness to play with injury should be encouraged but his toughness was off the charts. pic.twitter.com/QOaWN8XcSp— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) October 12, 2017
Two-minute drill.— NFL Throwback (@nflthrowback) September 15, 2018
Down by a score.
Against your division rival.
QB playing through an injury.
Before we saw this story play out last week with @AaronRodgers, @Titans QB Steve McNair gutted out this W against the Texans back in 2003. pic.twitter.com/aJSFxBPKjc
Ring of Honor
McNair and Titans running back Eddie George were the first two players many thought of when you thought of the Tennessee Titans. At halftime of the team’s 2019 home opener,
Primetime Sports Talk covered the enshrinement in their September 15, 2019 article by Joe Heller here.
They were enshrined into the Titans Ring of Honor together, although McNair was posthumously enshrined after his untimely murder on July 4, 2009, when he was fatally shot by his mistress, Sahel Kazemi, in a murder-suicide. McNair was 36 at the time of his death.
WATCH LIVE: #Titans retire Steve McNair’s #9 and Eddie George’s #27 at halftime | #INDvsTEN https://t.co/ha0gnidRa9— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) September 15, 2019
For a team that has been in existence since 1960, when the Titans/Oilers franchise and their greatest quarterbacks are discussed, Steve McNair has to be one of the first two or three that come to mind.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images