"Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair is retiring from the NFL after a 13-year career in which he was named co-MVP and led the Tennessee Titans to the Super Bowl."
From Alcorn State to the Hall of Fame.
Not bad. Not bad at all for a guy who ended up at Alcorn State (even tho he was recruited by major colleges) because they were the only program that would let him play quarterback.
Certainly, McNair, despite the obvious prejudice against Negro QB's, proved that a strong arm and commanding field generalship could shatter stereotypes and allow for the attainment of a dream. A dream fortified by an unmatch heart and the ability to play through injuries that sidelined many others. A dream achieved in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, layed out by a system hell bent on maintaining the status quo and preserving the 'face' of the NFL.
Steve McNair had a dream. And, praise be, he had a role model.
Following the path of the the only Negro to QB a team to Super Bowl victory (Doug Williams), McNair sought refuge from the systemic position reclassification enforced by white run major programs by attending an HBCU. In the low country of Mississippi, an NFL franchise QB developed and matured without the meddlesome interference of the establishment's effort to turn him into a receiver or DB.
By the grace of the power on high, McNair found himself drafted by the one franchise that understood the value, necessity and requirement of having a Negro field general. The Houston Oilers had been led by the first NFL Hall of Fame Negro QB (Warren Moon), and realized that there was truly no substitute.
Interestingly enough, McNair's tenure with the franchise (which became the Tennessee Titans) was shortened by the drafting of possibly the next great Negro QB, Vince Young (of course, injuries played a factor as well).
Off McNair went to Baltimore, where he led the Ravens to a 13-3 season before injuries (received behind offensive lines populated by predominantly white players) got the best of him.
Now, Baltimore is left with two QB's on their roster: The proven failure Kyle Boller. And the Heisman Trophy winning Troy Smith.
We salute the career of the unmatchable Steve McNair.
And more importantly, we acknowledge the lineage of the Negro QB Family Tree that McNair followed and helped extend.
Following Williams' blue print to reach the NFL. Then following in the footsteps of Moon in Houston. And finally, his performance and leadership providing the opportunities for Young and Smith to continue the genealogy.
Imagine if Bobby Bowden had gotten his way and McNair signed as a DB.
What a slow, boring and methodical NFL we'd have today!