EXCLUSIVE: Steve McNair: A mother's memories - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

EXCLUSIVE: Steve McNair: A mother's memories

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
MT. OLIVE, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

He led the Tennessee Titans to Super Bowl XXXIV, went to three Pro Bowls, was All-Pro once, threw 174 touchdowns against 119 interceptions, had 31,304 yards passing, and had an impressive 60.1 career completion percentage.

But, according to his mother, that was just a fraction of who Steve McNair was. His life was cut short on July 4, 2009, but his legacy lives on in family and those who knew him best.

When you walk into Lucille McNair's memory room, it's hard not be overwhelmed with the accomplishments of her sons, especially the one known as Steve "Air" McNair; a legacy she says began when Steve was a young boy, following in the footsteps of his older brother Fred.

“I always tell these young children I'm not braggin on him, but you can do what Steve McNair did," said Lucille. "Just stay focused and move on up.”

Lucille was a single mother, raising five rambunctious boys.

“You know boys are going to be boys," she said. "They were wrestling all the time, tearing the bed down and fixing the bed back up. It was a close knit family. 

The McNairs never had a lot, but Lucille says they had each other.

“They appreciated what they had," add Lucille. "They never complained about other children having this and they couldn't have that; they never complained.”

She worked nights and had no idea that her sons, against her wishes, were making a name for themselves on the football field. 

“They were slipping and playing football on the peewee team. and in junior high they started doing, and I said something is not right about this. “

Oldest son Fred McNair was the first star to emerge. In fact, he was the first to wear the #9 jersey that his younger brother would eventually make famous.

“If you put them out there to throw passes, they looked the same. But Fred was more, Fred would pick you apart. just standing in the pocket," said Lucille. "But Steve, his feet, he just moved. “

But Lucille was more concerned with them moving in the classroom.

“Everyone went to college and I bought them a bible and I told them, God come first, books come second and their sports come next,” said Lucille.

And it was in the sports arena that the McNair boys shined. Fred and Tim both played football, and younger brother Steve was magic, in both football and baseball.

“And I knew then. I said these boys is kinda special," added Lucille. "I had it  in my mind but I didn't tell nobody. That was me and God.”

But soon, everyone knew. Steve turned down an opportunity out of high school to be drafted into baseball.

“He said momma, we need the money and I said look, your education is more important," said Lucille. "I said we struggling now, we are not always gonna be down. And I said what you ain't got, you can't miss it.”

So instead, he headed to Alcorn State University, following his brothers Fred and Tim. And on the gridiron, he was magic.

“When they were saying hand him the Heisman, I was like what is the Heisman and they were giving me different people names who had won the Heisman.“

He didn't win the Heisman, but was taken 3rd in the NFL draft, heading to Houston to become an Oiler, and eventually, a Tennessee Titan. Called a Warrior on the field, McNair often played through bruises, concussions and other fairly serious injuries.

“He said, 'but they need me... and I'm not going to let them down.' So he would sacrifice his body to try and help his team and his teammates,” said Lucille.

And that's not all.

"Generous to a fault," added Lucille.

Lucille says Steve gave freely of his time, his talents and his money.

"They ain't got nothing, he would say. I know how it is when you ain't got nothing, and I never believed that I would be in this position to help other people,” said Lucille.

But he was, and he did.

Lucille said people will never know how kind and gentle her son was, but she says his legacy lives on through his four boys and his family. She offers this advice to other young athletes who aspire to be Warriors on the field, like McNair.

“He paved the way and now it's time for you to move forward.”

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