Former NFL MVP McNair found shot to death in Nashville

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

the blood.

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'

Mike Jones.

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.)