McNair: Titan’s coach shares memories
By Teresa M. Walker
NASHVILLE, Tenn. ó An emotional Jeff Fisher says Steve McNair, his former quarterback, was a “great person” who put the Tennessee Titans’ franchise on the NFL map.
The Titans coach called the slain quarterback one of the “greatest competitors of all time on the field.” Fisher was the only coach McNair had for the first 11 years of his NFL career, and Fisher said McNair’s legacy is what he did on the field and in the community.
“The Steve McNair that I knew would want me to say, ‘I’m sorry. I’m not perfect. We all make decisions sometimes that are not in the best interests. Please forgive me.’ The Steve McNair that I knew would want me to say, ‘Celebrate my life for what I did on the field, for what I did in the community, the kind of teammate that I was,’ ” Fisher said.
“That’s what the Steve that I knew would want me to say.”
McNair was found shot to death Saturday, alongside 20-year-old Sahel Kazemi in Nashville. Police have said McNair, a married father of four, had been dating Kazemi and ruled his death a homicide. A Kazemi relative said she bought a gun a couple days before the shootings.
The Titans coach had been in Iraq as part of an NFL trip last week to visit the military. His cell phone service resumed after the group landed in Kuwait, and Fisher noticed a string of calls had come in when Eddie George called and wound up informing the coach of McNair’s death.
George also attended Monday’s news conference and said he only called Fisher hoping to learn more information. Fisher last saw McNair when he played at the coach’s annual charity softball game on June 20 when the quarterback had his wife, Mechelle, and his sons.
Fisher said he’s still shocked by McNair’s death at 36.
“This is hard,” Fisher said. “This is hard on everybody. This is not an easy thing. There will be a void. Again, I’ll fill that void with those memories. That’s what we have to do.”
Fisher’s first full season was in 1995 when the then-Houston Oilers made McNair the No. 3 pick overall in that year’s draft. Fisher eased McNair into the lineup slowly, giving him spot duty over his first two seasons before turning the team over to McNair.
George said he is dealing with the loss of a dear friend.
“I’m not in a position to judge anyone or to be judged,” George said. “That’s up to God. And he was close to me. We came into this organization together. We built something together with Brad (Hopkins), Blaine (Bishop). You talk about the nomadic years, those were tough, led by Jeff Fisher, those were some tough times, and all we had was us.”