With the tragic news of the passing of Steve McNair on the Fourth of July, it’s difficult to contemplate his legacy, both in the NFL and here in Baltimore.
McNair will not only be remembered as the man who helped lead the Baltimore Ravens to their best regular season record, a 13-3 mark in 2006, but also as a worthy adversary playing for the Tennessee Titans.
Prior to the league’s switch to the current AFC North division format in 2002, the Ravens’ fiercest AFC Central rival was the Titans with McNair and running back Eddie George leading the way. The tenacious McNair was a feared opponent for the Ravens’ vaunted defense, breaking Baltimore hearts in the 2003 Wild Card matchup at M&T Bank Stadium.
My favorite memory of McNair will always be his preseason debut as the Ravens’ quarterback against the New York Giants in 2006. Though McNair played only one series, he led the team on an 80-yard drive, culminating with a 6-yard touchdown run.
The electricty in M&T Bank Stadium—for a preseason game no less—was palpable and set the tone for what would be a memorable 13-3 regular season. After witnessing quarterback after quarterback fail to lead the Ravens’ offense, the mere presence of McNair brought excitement and hope to an offense-starved fan base.
Though McNair would not bring a Super Bowl to the Ravens, his contribution to the 2006 season will not be forgotten. McNair’s legacy undoubtedly belongs in Nashville with the Titans, but his brief time in the Charm City will hold a special place in the hearts of many Ravens fans.
My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and former teammates during this terribly difficult time.