I stayed up late last night to watch my tivo’d episode of Dateline on Steve McNair: The Mysterious Death of a Titan. Eddie George, a former longtime teammate of McNair, gave an interview about the situation. If you didn’t know anything about Eddie George before last night, outside of his football accolades, you had to have come away with a healthy respect for him. He was well-spoken, articulate, and most of all made a lot of sense!!! Whenever people find out that someone in the limelight (athletes, musicians, actors) has vices it always overshadows so much of their life and full body of work. They are looked at as a bad and even immoral person. McNair’s Pastor said it best ‘the money, fame, and attention gave him more access to his vices’. It was not just because he was a football player that he loved women but it was because he was a man. It is a lot harder to stay away from things when you have unlimited access to them. Many people have no clue what their vices are because they don’t have the resources to make their fantasies reality. Money does not change you. It simply magnifies the traits that are inside you and tendencies you already have.
I only met Steve McNair a couple times, but his death affected me like we were old college roommates. Not only because of football, but because I, like so many other men empathized with him. I was not married like Steve, but it easily could have been me dead instead of him due to mistakes in my past. For a week straight everyone I knew was having or had already had the “McNair” talk with their friends, wife, girlfriend and family. Regardless of which side of the fence you were on, you had the talk. Eyebrows were raised and plenty of men got looks out of the corners of their lady’s eyes. McNair’s death made a lot of people take a step back and evaluate their lives, lifestyle, people they choose to hang around with and the places they decided to go. We don’t always think about the magnitude of the choices we make and how severe the consequences can be. I believe in my heart of hearts if Steve could do it all over again he would be at home with his wife and children every night. No man wants to leave fatherless children and a wife to mourn your tragic death that your actions caused.
The same way that his money and celebrity afforded him the opportunity to fulfill his fleshly desires, it also gave him the opportunity to use his money, fame, and connections to be a positive influence in and on his community. Steve McNair has spent countless hours in the community giving back with not only his money, but with his time. He loved giving back to kids and seeing his community grow. He rallied the community of Nashville to step up and help the people affected by Hurricane Katrina and did so many other good things, because that is what was in him. That is what was in his heart. This just goes to show us that even our heroes and people who are great leaders are not perfect. Everyone I know that played with Steve said he was a great leader. He was courageous, a warrior, and a Titan (in every sense of the word). We all have things that we struggle with but we have to exercise will power and lean on God if we are to free ourselves from our natural desires.
The choices we make shape our path in life, either positively or negatively. The things we choose to do, people we associate with, and places we choose to go have a direct impact on our life and the things that happen to us. If you are not out at 3 and 4 in the morning your chance of certain things happening to you is dramatically lower. If you always wear a condom you probably won’t get someone pregnant. If you hangout with criminals, regardless if you are not one yourself, chances are you will get caught up in some mess you have no business in. If you are at home with your wife and kids instead of out cheating with another women, you won’t get killed with her.
To wrap this thing up. Many people have many different problems and things they struggle with but don’t confuse a mans struggle with his heart. McNair should be remembered as a great football player, a leader, and a humanitarian who just like anyone else struggled to be a better person. He wasn’t immune to the temptations of this world because of his heroic feats on the gridiron. Athletes may be extraordinary physical phenoms, but we struggle with the same demons and worldly trappings as everyone else. I’m praying for the McNair family, that through this tragedy they will become a stronger family and an integral part of the Nashville community.