When Steve McNair was still the quarterback of the Tennessee Titans a few years ago, one of the big stories of that NFL offseason was his new commitment to being in shape, becoming a dedicated worker.
That prompted a laugh from another starting NFL quarterback.
|Steve McNair: A stand-up guy, and a tough one. (US Presswire)|
Wasting his talents some?
That story came to me again Thursday when news spread that McNair was retiring after 13 seasons. McNair will be remembered as a player who played through tons of a pain -- a warrior they often called him -- and seemed to tough it out as much as possible.
That's indeed true. McNair sometimes looked like he could barely take the field but found a way to finish games. He was a fighter, a brute to tackle. But one has to wonder how good he would have been had he put in the work taking care of his body early in his career.
Inside the Titans' building, there were always murmurs that McNair wasn't doing enough, that he wasn't one to strive to be better.
God-given talent, he had. The drive to be the best, not always.
That's why McNair was a good player, a damn good one, in fact, but he wasn't quite great. Close, but not quite. Truth be known, he might have been a little overrated.
McNair does have some amazing stats. He is one of only three quarterbacks (Steve Young and Fran Tarkenton are the others) to pass for 30,000 yards and rush for 3,500. That shows he could wing it, and when healthy, he had the legs to make defenses pay.
At 6-feet-2, 230 pounds, McNair looked like a linebacker playing quarterback. But no linebacker had an arm like he had. He threw it so hard, he sometimes hurt his receivers' hands.
Pass rushers hated him. They would have clear lines of contact, only to bounce off his thick frame like kids trying to tackle a grown man. I can still see him running through the Jacksonville Jaguars defense on a key play in the Titans' upset of the Jaguars in the 1999 AFC Championship Game.
Five or six tacklers bounced off him as he ran for 51 yards. He ran for two touchdowns that day and threw for another.