The 4th of July is a time for family and friends to gather and celebrate their independence. It's a time to reflect on all of the brave people who paid the ultimate price to ensure it. In Mississippi and Tennessee, it's also a day to reflect on the tragic passing of a fallen hero...Steve "Air" McNair.
The definition of a Titan: one that is gigantic in size or power. One that stands out for greatness or achievement.
Yep, that was our quarterback. That was Steve McNair.
If you bring his name up to the casual fan today, two incidents would vaguely come to mind. Coming up a yard short from tying Super Bowl XXXIV on the game's finalplay, and the salacious circumstances that lead to his death.
Imagine the leader of your company being tough as nails with the thick skin of a grizzly bear. They're the first one there and the last to leave. They're unflappable, with a demeanor so even keeled that if the company was on fire you'd never evensmell the smoke. They stand out front when a fall guy is needed, and deflect the praise unto you when it's heaped upon them. Oh, and they're clutch...delivering on their promises far more times than not. You'd probably run through a wall for a leader like that right?
McNair's teammates ran through walls (opponents) for him too....an ultimate Titan...and his band of believers.
His road to the Super Bowl was filled with potholes, flat tires, and engine breakdowns. He quietly believed in himself (key word being quietly), and went about the business of improving his overall game every week...every practice.
When McNair finally got his shot, he handled it with class. After every Titans loss, no matter how well he played, McNair would simply say..."I need to play better" at his post game press conference. After one of his many Herculean late game heroic efforts, he would simply say...."The wide receivers were great today. The line gave me time to find them, and the defense put us in some great situations today."
I remember watching the games with my family. When the Titans got the ball with achance to win my big brother would leap to his feet, march toward the TV, and chant..."Take us there...McNair." With every third down conversion, every scramble, the chant would get louder..."TAKE US THERE...McNAIR". By the time the Titans were in the red zone the whole house was yelling it. Time after time McNair would...literally...putting the entire city on his shoulder pads and leading us to victory.
That clutch gene....aka...self confidence.
So we'll respectfully digress.
What made Steve McNair so endearing to his home town supporters in Mississippi, and his new home town supporters in Tennessee, was the fact that he went out of his way to denounce his super hero status. He would say to the kids..."I'm no different than you. If you believe in yourself, and put in the work, you can play in the NFL (pursue your dreams) just like I did. And it was no act. It's who he truly was.
As we enjoy the festivities of today, lets honor the memory of McNair by being a leader...of some sort in our own lives. McNair has proved that may people will benefit from the sacrifice.
Starting qb for the Titans for 9 seasons. Super Bowl run in 1999. Untimely death in 2009.
Rest in peace....#9.