Tennessee Titans retirement ceremony stirred up memories

Published 2:46 pm Wednesday, September 18, 2019

My Sundays during the fall are usually spent watching pro football all day.

From noon until 11 p.m., I always watch the nationally-televised games scheduled on FOX, CBS and NBC.

Sunday felt a little different because one game I had circled on the calendar for months: Houston at Tennessee at Nissan Stadium. At halftime, the Titans retired the jerseys of their two most recent legends: running back Eddie George and the late quarterback Steve “Air” McNair.

Email newsletter signup

McNair was murdered on July 4, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee by his girlfriend, Sahel Kazemi, 20. McNair and Kazemi were found fatally shot in a condominium in downtown Nashville. It was ruled a murder-homicide.

I covered McNair during my first four years as a reporter at The Biloxi Sun Herald, 1991-1994.  McNair was a Heisman Trophy finalist at Alcorn State in 1994 and became the NCAA’s career total yardage leader. I became friends with McNair and his family during that time.

Suddenly, memories danced inside my head. It felt like yesterday that I covered the Alcorn State-Alabama State showdown at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.

McNair was drafted third overall in 1995 by the then-Houston Oilers, who later became the Tennessee Titans. McNair spent 11 of his 13 seasons with the Titans, 1995-2005. He guided the Titans to a Super Bowl in 1999. McNair also won an NFL MVP award and threw for over 31,000 career yards.

My eyes watered up when I saw McNair’s family step onto the field and watch his jersey get raised into the raptors. McNair’s widow, Mechelle McNair, mother, Lucille McNair, his four children and three brothers were all on the field for the ceremony. Fred McNair wore a No. 9 Titans jersey and spoke on his brother’s behalf. A special plaque was also presented to Mechelle McNair.

“It’s always a blessing to know all the hard work he put in on that field, that people are still respecting him and giving him that acknowledgment. “He was a warrior, and he did his job.” McNair told Titansonline.com. “The boys, they are very proud of their father.”

The one time I believed McNair would’ve loved to have heard the loud cheers of appreciation from Titans fans, he couldn’t. I was glad to see the Titans organization and their fans overlook McNair’s marital affair for his herculean efforts on the field.

It was well deserved and long overdue.