Steve McNair's tragic death due to multiple gun shot wounds, in what I believe will prove to be a murder-suicide, no doubt will personally impact a number of NFL fans.
It's difficult to describe what McNair's impact was on the NFL to folks who do not follow professional football. McNair was the ultimate underdog coming out of college. He had been given the moniker "Air", as in Steve "Air " McNair, while throwing the ball for Division 1-AA Alcorn State. Making it in the NFL from a Division 1-AA school is difficult to do. Making it as a quarterback is virtually impossible. Making it as a black quarterback, in a time when a stigma still surrounded the black quarterback, although nothing was being said, was supposed to be impossible.
Yet, McNair did it. How difficult is it to make it in the NFL as a quarterback in general? Although the American public may not know the following names, NFL fans surely do.
Jeff George, Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, Cade McNown, Todd Marinovich and Ryan Leaf all were drafted in the 1st round by NFL teams to play quarterback and all, arguably, had a better chance at success than Steve McNair.
But "Air McNair proved them wrong and in doing so he, along with Warren Moon and Donovan McNabb, further opened the door for the black quarterback. That's an important note for a league run by mostly rich white men.
Rest in peace, Steve. You will be missed.