NASHVILLE, Tenn. — I left former NFL running back Eddie George‘s house about an hour ago. We discussed his former Titans teammate Steve McNair, who, as we know by now, was shot and killed Saturday at age 36.
George, like a lot of the citizens here, is having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that McNair is dead and that he was murdered.
“This morning you get up hoping its a bad nightmare but reality is setting in,” George said.
George, like teammate Kevin Dyson, who I also spoke with Sunday, referred to McNair as an anti-diva quarterback. He was a guy who responded to boos early in his career, not by asking out — or even suggesting it — but by playing through the growing pains, the physical pains and benefitting from it.
He also talked about how giving McNair was and how open he was to making himself a member of the community.
While George painted McNair as a great teammate and friend, he also recognized that the circumstances surrounding McNair’s death — at the very least that the 20-year-old woman police said he was dating outside of his marriage, and who also died from a gunshot wound in his condo — can’t be overlooked.
The reality of that will be the news for a few days but in the end, McNair will be remembered as a good football player who was part of the fabric here and in his home in Mississippi, George said.
It’s hard to disagree. The sordid details are what we, as a society, tend to cling to in the shock of the moment. But as the days pass, McNair’s struggles and accomplishments will supersede this tragedy — and it is a tragedy.
Based on how fans locally are responding — leaving flowers and mementos en masse at his restaurant, posting signs on windows and cars — it won’t take long.
– Steve Wyche