Steve McNair was one of the pioneering African Americans in the world of NFL has been found shot dead in Nashville.
The league had long been used to seeing African American players in the skill positions but normally as backs or wide receivers. McNair was one of the first to make the big leagues controlling the huddle and throwing the pigskin as Quarterback.
In 1991 he was actually drafted in the 35th round of the Baseball draft by the Seattle Mariners out of Mount Olive, Miss but he wanted to play football. Bigger colleges wanted him, but to play defensive back, so he took the offer from Alcorn State where he could play QB. In his senior year he passed and rushed for almost 6,000 yards and 53 touchdowns coming 3rd in the Heisman Trophy voting of 1995.
He was drafted in the 3rd round by the then Houston Oilers before the move of the franchise to Tennessee and then later became the Titans. The Air nickname was only one aspect of his QB skills he was also an excellent scrambler. His challenging of adversary lead to the legend of his most successful seasons.
In 1999 despite early season back surgery he led the newly renamed Titans to Superbowl XXXIV, where a tackle on the one yard line of Kevin Dyson led to a heartbreaking 23-16 loss to the St. Louis Rams. In 2002 the Titans started 1-4 and McNair ravaged by injuries was unable for two months only turning out on Sundays to lead the offence. The team won 11 of the last 12 games to a 11-5 record to go to the playoffs, losing out to the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship game.
In 2000 McNair had led the Titans to the NFL leading 13-3 record but lost their Divisional Game to eventual Superbowl XXXV winners the Baltimore Ravens. In 2003 he shared the MVP honours with Peyton Manning after a 12-4 regular season beating the Ravens in their wildcard game but came up against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championships who were on the way to their second out of their three rings in for years with Tom Brady crouching behind the centre.
In 2006 he was traded to the Ravens and won the AFC North Division with a 13-3 record but lost out in his only play-off game for Baltimore to the Indianapolis Colts 13-6. The following year he was unable to start for most of the season and his retirement was announced in April last year.
On Independence Day he was found shot dead along with a woman in a condominium in Nashville.