NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Former NFL quarterback Steve McNair,
whose most noted drive was the final one of the 2000 Super Bowl,
was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head Saturday afternoon
in a downtown condominium. Police said a pistol was discovered near
the body of a woman also shot dead.
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 the 36-year-old McNair was found on the sofa in the
living room, and Kazemi was very close to him on the floor. Aaron
said the gun was not "readily apparent" when police first
Autopsies were planned for Sunday.
Aaron said McNair's wife, Mechelle, is "very distraught."
"At this juncture, we do not believe she is involved," he
said. "Nothing has been ruled out, but as far as actively looking
for a suspect tonight, the answer would be no."
Fred McNair, Steve McNair's oldest brother, said some family
members likely will travel to Nashville on Monday to consult with
Steve McNair's wife.
"It's still kind of hard to believe," Fred McNair said. "He
was the greatest person in the world. He gave back to the
community. He loved kids and he wanted to be a role model to
He said he did not know who Kazemi was.
The bodies were discovered Saturday afternoon by McNair's
longtime friend Wayne Neeley, who said he rents the condo with
Aaron said Neeley told authorities he went into the condo, 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
Neeley then called a friend, who alerted authorities.
Police said a witness saw McNair arrive at the condo in the
upscale Rutledge Hill neighborhood between 1:30 and 2 a.m. Saturday
and that Kazemi's vehicle was already there. The condominium is
located within walking distance of an area filled with restaurants
and nightspots, a few blocks from the Cumberland River and within
view of the Titans' stadium.
Two days ago, Nashville police arrested Kazemi on a DUI charge
while driving a 2007 Escalade registered to her and McNair. McNair
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."
In June, McNair opened a restaurant near the Tennessee State
University campus. It was closed Saturday evening, but had become a
small memorial, where flowers, candles and notes had been placed
outside the door.
On the restaurant's windows were messages: "We will miss you
Steve" and "We love you Steve."
A note attached to a small blue teddy bear read, "We will never
forget you, Steve. Once a Titan, always a Titan."
"We don't know the details, but it is a terrible tragedy and
our hearts go out to the families involved," NFL commissioner
Roger Goodell said in a statement.
McNair, a four-time Pro Bowler, 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 for the Baltimore Ravens before
retiring in April 2008.
His most noted drive, the last one in that Super Bowl, came when
he led the Titans 87 yards in the final minute and 48 seconds, only
to come up a yard short of the tying touchdown. Kevin Dyson caught
his 9-yard pass, but was tackled at the 1-yard line by the Rams'
McNair accounted for all of Tennessee's yards in that drive,
throwing for 48 yards 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.
"If you were going to draw a football player, the physical
part, the mental part, everything about being a professional, he is
your guy," former Ravens and Titans teammate Samari Rolle said.
"I can't even wrap my arms around it. It is a sad, sad day. The
world lost a great man today."
McNair became a nationally known college football star playing
for Alcorn State, a Division I-AA school in his home state. His
performance in the Southwestern Athletic Conference was so
dominant, he became a Heisman Trophy contender and national media
flocked to the school in Lorman, Miss., to get look at "Air
McNair." He still holds the Division I-AA (now known as Football
Championship Subdivision) records for career yards passing (14,496)
and total offense (16,823).
McNair began his NFL career in 1995 with the Houston Oilers, who
eventually became the Titans, and finished with 31,304 yards
passing and 174 touchdowns. McNair played with pain for several
years, and the injuries ultimately forced him to retire.
"On the field, there isn't player that was as tough as him,
especially at the quarterback position," the Ravens' Derrick Mason
said. "What I have seen him play through on the field, and what he
dealt with during the week to get ready for a game, I have never
known a better teammate."
During a five-game stretch at the end of the 2002 season, McNair
was so bruised he couldn't practice. But he started all five games
and won them, leading the Titans to an 11-5 finish and a berth in
the AFC championship game for the second time in four seasons.
McNair played all 16 games in 2006, his first season in
Baltimore, and guided the Ravens to a 13-3 record. But he injured
his groin during the season opener last season and never regained
the form that put him in those Pro Bowls.
"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 for them. "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
Titans coach Jeff Fisher was out of the country, taking part in
the first NFL-USO coaches tour to Iraq.
Ozzie Newsome, Ravens executive vice president and general
manager, said he immediately thought of McNair's four sons.
"This is so, so sad. We immediately think of his family, his
boys. They are all in our thoughts and prayers," he said "What we
admired most about Steve when we played against him was his
competitive spirit, and we were lucky enough to have that with us
for two years. He is one of the best players in the NFL over the
last 20 years."
No funeral arrangements have been made.
Associated Press Writer Emily Wagster Pettus in Mount Olive,
Miss., AP Writers Randall Paul Dickerson and Lucas L. Johnson II in
Nashville, Tenn., and AP Sports Writer Teresa Walker in Fort Walton
Beach, Fla., contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)