Today marks the end of an era… well sort of. It is the end of an era that many thought had passed several years ago. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair retired from the NFL earlier today, and with him gone the NFL has lost one it’s true warriors of the gridiron.
For those who watched McNair’s final season they saw a man struggling to make plays, and find the open receivers. However, if you think back a decade ago to when McNair came into the league, and you’ll remember just how great Air McNair really was. Before he became the lumbering veteran with the Ravens, he was the young gun gambler who could jump over you or run through you. Steve began his career as a runner, and was forced to transform into a passer when injuries took away his wheels. Steve McNair was one of the last hold over’s from the Houston Oilers. With his retirement the last of those wide open Run and Gun days go with him.
Too often people forget that McNair was the leagues MVP in 2003 and in 1999 he took the Titians to the brink of a Super Bowl against the greatest show on turf. The second half of that game was dominated by McNair’s will to win. Sadly that would be as close to glory as he would come. The Titians gambled away their future to put together that Super Bowl Squad, and they were relegated to salary cap hell for the next four seasons.
McNair played hurt every week. For the majority of his career he was never able to show his true potential because he was too injured to practice. He only suited up once a week and he gave it his all. For a quarterback that’s a difficult process to go through. He never had time to build a relationship with his receivers. He just had to wing it.
It’s almost funny that Steve McNair and Brett Favre would retire in the same year. They both played the game in similar fashions. More importantly there is no doubt that they laid it all out on the line for their teams and their fans. One thing is for sure, there will not be another Air McNair.