On July 4, 2009,
McNair was found dead of a single gunshot wound to the head, along with a female victim whom police did not immediately identify. The apartment was one which McNair frequented, in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron confirmed that police were called to a residence and found McNair and the woman shot to death inside.
Steve LaTreal McNair (February 14, 1973 - July 4, 2009) nicknamed Air McNair, was an American football quarterback in the National Football League. He was originally drafted by the Houston Oilers third overall in the 1995 NFL Draft. He played college football at Alcorn State.
McNair was selected to the Pro Bowl three times and was the Co-AP NFL MVP in 2003.
McNair attended Mount Olive High School as a freshman in the fall of 1987, where he played football, baseball, and basketball in addition to running track for the Pirates. The Seattle Mariners drafted him in the 35th round of the 1991 MLB amateur draft. As a junior, McNair led Mount Olive to the state championship. McNair also played free safety in high school, and in 1990 alone, he intercepted 15 passes, raising his career total to 30, which tied the mark established by Terrell Buckley at Pascagoula High School. An All-State selection, McNair was named an All-American by Super Prep magazine.
McNair played collegiately for Alcorn State University, a historically black university which competes in the NCAA's Division I-AA (now known as the Football Championship Subdivision) Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). In 1992, McNair threw for 3,541 yards and 29 touchdowns, and ran in for 10 more scores. The Braves fashioned a record of 7–4, including a last-second victory in their rematch with Grambling. In that contest, McNair returned from an injury and helped Alcorn State, trailing late in the final period, move deep into Tigers’ territory. Then, despite a leg injury, he tucked the ball under his arm and dove into the end zone for the winning touchdown. The victory over Grambling helped the Braves qualify for the 1-AA playoffs. McNair helped Alcorn State to another good year in 1993, as the Braves upped their record to 8-3 while McNair threw for more than 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. He was also named First-Team All-SWAC for the third year in a row.
In his senior season, McNair gained nearly 6,000 yards rushing and passing, along with 53 touchdowns. In the process, he surpassed more than a dozen records and was named an All-American. In addition, McNair won the Walter Payton Award and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Rashaan Salaam and Ki-Jana Carter.
With the third pick in the 1995 NFL Draft the Oilers and new head coach Jeff Fisher selected McNair, who signed a seven-year contract. McNair did not see his first action until the last two series of the fourth quarter in a November game versus the Cleveland Browns. Late in the season, he also appeared briefly against the Detroit Lions and New York Jets. Meanwhile, starting quarterback Chris Chandler finished as the AFC’s fourth-best passer. In 1996, McNair remained a backup to Chandler until starting a game in December against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
McNair's first season as the Oilers' starter in 1997 resulted in an 8-8 record for the team, which played its home games at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee. McNair's 2,665 passing yards were the most for the Oilers since Warren Moon in 1993, and his 13 interceptions were the fewest for a single season in franchise history. He also led the team in rushing touchdowns with eight and ranked second behind running back Eddie George with 674 yards on the ground, the third-highest total for a quarterback in NFL history.
In 1998, McNair set career passing highs with 492 attempts, 289 completions, 3,228 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Oilers, now competing in Nashville. He also cut his interceptions to 10, helping his quarterback rating climb to 80.1.
The Oilers officially changed their name to Tennesee Titans for the 1999 season as they debuted a new stadium, the Coliseum. Early in the 1999 season, McNair was diagnosed with an inflamed disk following Tennessee's 36-35 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, and needed surgery. In his place stepped Neil O'Donnell, a veteran who had guided the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Super Bowl four years earlier. During the next five games, O’Donnell led the Titans to a 4–1 record. McNair returned against the St. Louis Rams, and with McNair starting, Tennessee won seven of its last nine games, good for a record of 13-3 and second place in the AFC Central.
Tennessee opened the playoffs at home against the Buffalo Bills in a Wild Card game, winning on the "Music City Miracle" and eventually advancing to Super Bowl XXXIV in a re-match with the Rams. On the final play of the game, a McNair pass to Kevin Dyson was complete, but Dyson was unable to break the plane of the goal line, giving the Rams the win. McNair signed a new six-year contract after the season worth $47 million.
Following a 13-3 season in 2000 that ended in a playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the 28-year-old McNair put together his most productive year as a pro. McNair registered career passing highs in yards (3,350), completions (264), touchdowns (21) and quarterback rating (90.2). He was also the team’s most effective rusher, tying George for the club lead with five scores. Named to the Pro Bowl for the first time, McNair sat out the game due to a shoulder injury.
After another playoff loss in 2002, McNair was arrested for DUI and illegal gun possession in May 2003. His blood alcohol was above 0.10, and a 9-mm handgun had been sitting in the front of the car.
In December of the 2003 season, an injured calf and ankle kept McNair on the sidelines for two games. Still he finished with the best numbers of his career, including 24 touchdown passes and a quarterback rating of 100.4. The Titans ended at 12-4, the same record as the Colts, but Indianapolis took the AFC South by virtue of its two victories over Tennessee. McNair and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning were named co-NFL MVPs following the season, which ended in a playoff loss to the New England Patriots for the Titans.
McNair missed the 2004 season's fourth game with a bruised sternum, an injury suffered the previous week against Jacksonville, and played in only five more games that season.
Following the 2005 season, on April 30, 2006, the Titans allowed McNair and his agent, Bus Cook to speak with the Ravens to try to work out a deal. On May 1, 2006, the Baltimore Sun reported that the Baltimore Ravens might wait for McNair to be released by the Titans during free agency. Speculation was that the Titans might hold onto McNair until the week before training camp in late July if the Ravens didn't come up with a satisfactory trade offer for McNair according to a league source. However, on June 7, 2006, the two teams worked out a deal to send McNair to the Ravens for a 4th-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. On June 8, McNair flew to Baltimore, passed a physical, and was announced as the newest member of the Ravens.
The 2006 season saw McNair start each game for the Ravens, missing only portions of two games, helping Baltimore to a 13–3 record and an AFC North Championship. McNair started at quarterback in his first playoff game as a Raven when his team played against the Colts on January 13, 2007. The Ravens lost 15-6.
On May 9, 2007 McNair was a passenger in a car that was pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving. Both the driver of the vehicle, who is his brother-in-law, and McNair were arrested for driving under the influence. Under Tennessee law, one can still be arrested for DUI even if you are a passenger in your own car and the driver is found to be under the influence. McNair owns the pick-up truck involved and was charged with DUI by consent. The Charges were dropped on July 10, 2007.
In 2007, McNair did not play in Week 2 against the Jets which the Ravens won 20–13. He also did not play the full game in Week 3, however, the game was won by the Ravens, 26–23. McNair missed 9 more games during the rest of the season, including getting pulled after taking many hits by Steelers' linebacker James Harrison in Week 9, and fumbling the ball twice.
After 13 seasons in the NFL, McNair announced his retirement in April 2008.
McNair was married to Mechelle, and had four sons: Steve Junior, Steven, Tyler, and Trenton Steve Jr. is a wide receiver at Hattiesburg Oak Grove High School in Mississippi, the school at which Brett Favre regularly works out during the off-season. Steve Jr. is scheduled to graduate in 2010 and has received offers from Mississippi State, Southern Miss, West Virginia, and Tulsa. Prior to his death, McNair opened a restaurant named Gridiron9 in Nashville on June 19, 2009.
Titans owner Bud Adams released a statement regarding McNair:
"We are saddened and shocked to hear the news of Steve McNair's passing today. He was one of the finest players to play for our organization and one of the most beloved players by our fans. He played with unquestioned heart and leadership and led us to places that we had never reached, including our only Super Bowl. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they deal with his untimely passing."