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Steve "Air" McNair - A Tribute

Steve McNair, a hero to many Mississippians, is one of the greatest to come from the Magnolia State.
Steve McNair, a hero to many Mississippians, is one of the greatest to come from the Magnolia State.

I know this isn't exactly timely.  My apologies.  I have had this on my mind for a while and, honestly, just could not--and, really, still cannot--put everything that I am thinking into words.

While I certainly would love to have McNair back with us, I'm not exactly overcome with grief or anything too crippling.

I'm just confused.  This does not compute with me.  Steve McNair seemed to all of us like a guy who would be around forever.  He, unlike any player most of us have ever seen, fought uphill battles unlike any other.  Growing up in the hardscrabble rural Pine Belt of southern Mississippi, being snubbed by his state's major universities (fact: Ole Miss foolishly recruited McNair to play tight end), being overlooked by Heisman voters in favor of Rashaan Salaam and Ki-Jana Carter, becoming drafted to a dying franchise and having the weight of its revival placed on his shoulders, coming just one meager yard short of a possible Super Bowl victory, having to share your MVP title, and constantly playing through a broken this or a sprained that will all make someone a symbol of endurance.  The fact that a man who was admired by all for his tenacity was taken by us in such a sudden, simple, and brutal fashion is terribly difficult to comprehend.  Not finding it appropriate, I won't delve into the nature of his tragic and all-too-revealing passing, save for the fact that he never did a thing to deserve such.

I never saw Air McNair play his ball at Alcorn State so I could never begin to describe it.  But, even if I could, it would never hold a candle to Willie Morris' beautifully written piece on McNair written as an op-ed for the October 22, 1994 New York Times.

I can't elaborate on it any further than this: Steve McNair was one of Mississippi's heroes.  Yes, he was an NFL MVP, a Heisman candidate, and the owner of numbers one could only hope for in an EA Sports game.  But none of that is why we admired him.  In a way, his ability to continuously battle through adversity made him something the entire state of Mississippi could admire.

Goodbye, Steve.  May you forever live as a legend of the Magnolia State gridiron.