McNair dead at 36
Ex-QB killed in double shooting
NASHVILLE - Former NFL quarterback Steve McNair, 36, was shot multiple times, including once in the head, and a pistol was discovered near the body of the 20-year-old woman found dead with him yesterday in a downtown Nashville condominium, police said.
Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron identified the woman as 20-year-old Sahel Kazemi, whom he called a “friend’’ of McNair’s. She had a single gunshot wound to the head.
Police said McNair was found on the sofa in the living room, and Kazemi was very close to him on the floor.
Aaron said McNair’s wife, Mechelle, is “very distraught.’’
“At this juncture, we do not believe [Mechelle] is involved,’’ he said. “Nothing has been ruled out, but as far as actively looking for a suspect tonight, the answer would be no.’’
The bodies were discovered yesterday afternoon by McNair’s longtime friend Wayne Neeley, who rented the condo at 105 Lea Avenue with McNair.
Aaron said Neeley told authorities he went into the condo and saw McNair on the sofa and Kazemi on the floor, but walked first into the kitchen before going back into the living room where he saw the blood.
Neeley then called a friend, who alerted authorities.
Police said a witness saw McNair arrive at the condo between 1:30 and 2 a.m. and that Kazemi’s vehicle was already there.
Two days ago, Nashville police arrested Kazemi on a DUI charge while driving a 2007 Escalade, the car was registered to her and McNair, who was in the front seat but didn’t break the law and was allowed to leave by taxi.
The arrest affidavit said Kazemi had bloodshot eyes and the smell of alcohol on her breath, but refused a breathalyzer test, saying “she was not drunk, she was high.’’ McNair bailed Kazemi out, according to bail bondsmen.
In June, McNair opened a restaurant near the Tennessee State University campus. It was closed last evening, but had become a small memorial, where flowers, candles, and notes had been placed outside the door.
McNair played 13 seasons in the NFL and led the Titans within a yard of forcing overtime in the 2000 Super Bowl, which they lost, 23-16, to the St. Louis Rams. He also played two seasons for the Baltimore Ravens before retiring in April 2008.
McNair was drafted with the third overall pick in 1995 out of Alcorn State by the Houston Oilers, who became the Tennessee Titans in 1997. McNair, a three-time Pro Bowler, finished with 31,304 yards passing and 174 touchdowns.
McNair’s most noted drive was the final one of the 2000 Super Bowl. He drove the Titans 87 yards in the final 1:48, only to come up a yard short of the tying touchdown. Kevin Dyson caught his 9-yard pass, but was tackled at the 1 by Mike Jones.
McNair accounted for all of Tennessee’s yards in that drive, throwing for 48 and rushing for 14. The rest of the yardage came on penalties against the Rams. Before that, he brought the Titans back from a 16-0 deficit to tie the game.
The highlight of his playing time might have been a five-game stretch at the end of the 2002 season when he was so banged up he couldn’t practice. McNair started all five games and won them all, leading the Titans to an 11-5 finish and a berth in the AFC Championship game for the second time in four seasons.
McNair shared the league’s MVP award with the Colts’ Peyton Manning in 2003 after he threw for 3,215 yards and a career-high 24 touchdowns.
McNair played all 16 games in 2006, his first season in Baltimore, and guided the Ravens to a 13-3 record.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of today’s tragic news regarding the death of Steve McNair. He was a player who I admired a great deal,’’ said New England Patriots senior football adviser Floyd Reese, who was GM of the Titans when McNair played there. “He was a tremendous leader and an absolute warrior. He felt like it was his responsibility to lead by working hard every day, no matter what.’’
“I don’t think there was a player who played with him or against him that didn’t look up to him and respect him.’’
Titans coach Jeff Fisher is out of the country, taking part in the first NFL-USO coaches tour to Iraq.
McNair became nationally known at Alcorn State, a Division 1-AA school in Lorman, Miss., his home state. His performance at the school was so dominant, he became a Heisman Trophy contender and picked up the moniker “Air McNair.’’ He still holds the Division 1-AA (now known as Football Championship Subdivision) records for career yards passing (14,496) and total offense (16,823).
Material from The Tennessean was used in this report.