He was known as a tough country boy from Mississippi. He was drafted out of Alcorn State in the first round of the NFL draft. He was Steve McNair. The Tennessee Titans used their third pick in the 1995 draft to select him, and boy did he live up to the expectations.
But, is he worth the Hall of Fame?
The four-time Pro Bowler Steve “Air” McNair had a 13 year career in the NFL, 11 of which were with the Titans. He threw for 31,304 yards and 174 touchdowns. He ran for 3,590 yards and 37 touchdowns.
Not only did he put up great numbers, he led his team to greatness and was recognized for it along the way.
In 2003, he led the Titans to their fourth playoff appearance in five seasons and shared an MVP honor with the one and only Peyton Manning. His 27,141 passing yards with the Titans ranked second in the franchise behind Warren Moon’s 33,685. His 83.3% completion percentage tops the charts in the franchise. His combined career rating of 82.8, that includes his time in Baltimore, is the 23rd highest career rating in NFL history.
He is known as one of the NFL’s greatest dual threats. Go ask an NFL analyst who’s one of the greatest. They’ll likely tell you Steve McNair. He’s had 112 games out of 148 with a rushing and/or passing touchdown.
In respect of Black History Month, he became the first African-American quarterback to lead an AFC team to the Super Bowl and only the second to win a conference championship. He then became the first African-American quarterback to win the league’s MVP award in 2003.
One of his most memorable moments is rebounding his team from a 1-4 start after dealing with injuries in 2002. They won 10 of their last 11 games and took the AFC Central championship.
Will McNair ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame? If he doesn’t, it’ll be because of his lack of Superbowl rings. His endurance shown while having to sit and learn on the bench and go through a relocation is what Titans fans are sort of seeing in Marcus Mariota today.
But, unlike Mariota (yet), McNair deserves to be known as a legit Hall of Famer.