The sports world was shaken this past weekend with the tragic news of Steve McNair’s untimely death.
Instead of discussing his tragic death, let’s take a look at what he did on the field. He was, after all, one of the best quarterbacks out there. No one could ever question his toughness when Sundays came around. He played with more heart then anyone else on the field. McNair was often known as a “Warrior” because he would shake off injury just to bring it game after game. Besides being one tough player, McNair was electrifying to watch. With that here’s some of Steve “Air” McNair’s greatest football moments.
1992 was arguably McNair’s breakout year. During the 1992 season at Alcorn State, located in McNair’s home state of Mississippi, McNair threw for 3,541 yards, had 29 touchdowns and rushed for another ten touchdowns. However, it was during a rematch against rival Grambling that helped McNair prove that he wasn’t just the run of the mill quarterback.
Playing with a sprained ankle, McNair lead Alcorn State in an inspiring comeback. In a scene right out of a movie, McNair scored the winning touchdown by tucking the ball under his arm and diving into the end zone, while limping severely. The victory over Grambling was good enough to secure Alcorn State a playoff birth for the 1-AA.
Steve had another great year in 1993 by throwing for more than 3,000 yards and throwing 30 touchdowns. He even was named to the first team All-SWAC for the third year in the row. Steve’s greatness was gaining national attention, which lead to added pressure for his senior year.
McNair definitely went out with a bang in 1994. In the season opener McNair threw for 485 yards and five touchdowns in a loss to Grambling. But he only got better. The next week against Tennessee-Chattanooga, Steve gained 647 total yards and eight touchdowns. He even broke his own single game record against Southern University with 649 yards. At the end of the year Steve racked up almost 6,000 yards and 53 touchdowns. He became an All-American, won the Walter Payton Award and finished third in the Heisman voting.
I would recommend watching this video about McNair back in the day for a glimpse at his college career.
It was no shocker the McNair was drafted third in the 1995 NFL draft by the Houston Oilers. McNair spent the first season learning the system under new coach Jeff Fisher. Although he did see some action against the Browns, Lions and Jets during his rookie year.
McNair’s big day came in December of 1996 when he got the start against the Jaguars. While the Oilers lost, McNair was impressive by throwing for more than 300 yards. The performance was enough to convince Fisher that McNair was ready for the job. McNair ended up playing 10 games and passing for 1,197 yards and six touchdowns.
The 1997 season wasn’t a great one for the Oilers, but McNair was on the rise. Throwing for 2,665 yards was the best for an Oiler QB since Warren Moon in 1993. He also lead the team with eight rushing TD’s and was second with rushing yards behind RB Eddie George; this would be third all-time for QB’s.
In 1998 the Oilers became the Tennessee Titans and Steve had another great year with 3,228 yards and 15 touchdowns. And as usual, the running game was solid with McNair and Eddie George tearing up the field. This made the 1999 season look promising. In the game opener against the Bengals, Steve was awesome with 341 passing yards and 3 TD’s. However, Steve needed surgery for an inflamed disk, missing several games. While his numbers weren’t super impressive, he was able to play through injuries and inspired his teammates to the playoffs.
The Titans beat the Bills in the Wild Card with the “Music City Miracle”, slipped by the Colts 19-16, and smashed the Jaqs 33-14 in the AFC Championship. Up next was Super Bowl XXXIV against the Rams.
Of course we all know how that ended, the Titans falling 1 yard short of becoming Super Bowl champs, but it was McNair that got them there. Down 16-0 in the third, McNair and the Titans made a remarkable comeback, but lost 23-16 when the dust settled.
2000 was another great year for McNair, but one of McNair’s best seasons came in 2001 as he finished with 3,350 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and five rushing TD’s while battling a shoulder injury. McNair lead the Titans to a number of great comebacks in the 2002 season, like their victory at Giants Stadium. While McNair’s stats were his best yet, the most remarkable thing about McNair was that he was so battered that he couldn’t even practice, yet somehow, started all 16 games and lead the Titans to the playoffs once again.
In 2003, McNair shared the MVP with Peyton Manning after finishing with 24 touchdowns and a QB rating of 100.4. Just imagine what his numbers could have been if he hadn’t missed a couple of games.
McNair was sidelined with a lot of injuries during the 2004 season, but started 14 games the following season. It was after the 2005 season McNair and the Titans parted. Steve went to the Ravens and lead Baltimore to the top of the AFC North. McNair played all 16 games in 2006 and had another 3,000 yard plus season, which was good enough for his fourth and final Pro-Bowl appearance.
McNair didn’t play much during the 2007 season as he was sidelined by a series of injuries. It was clear that he couldn’t give any more to the game and retired in April of 2008.
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