Ask most football fans who the toughest players over the past decade are and Steve McNair almost certainly would be on most lists.
McNair came to the NFL out of tiny Alcorn State with a rocket arm and a penchant for picking defenses apart with his ability to barrel through the line of scrimmage as much as his passing ability.
This throw-caution-to-the-wind made him a local legend in Nashville. He played most of his career for the Tennessee Titans, often working through numerous injuries to lead a franchise pretty consistently in the playoff picture during his tenure.
That image of the ultimate tough guy was shattered Saturday when McNair was found dead Saturday. He was in the company of a woman roughly half his age whom published reports indicate he had been dating and treating to a lavish lifestyle of expensive cars and vacations.
McNair was still married and had four sons.
His mother, Lucille, contacted in the Mississippi town where McNair grew up was quoted: “Because the way I see it, it was the devil’s work and not God’s work.”
To pass judgment on McNair’s choices or lifestyle would be easy.
The more challenging, and appropriate response, is to hope and pray for his family moving forward. Despite whatever McNair’s personal shortcomings many have been, there is still a mother without a son, wife without her husband and boys without their father.