While he only played two seasons for our Baltimore Ravens, I consider it an honor to have watched Steve McNair play in a Raven uniform. He'll always be remembered as a Tennessee Titan, as he should be, but he'll also go down as one of the toughest and grittiest players in NFL history.
During his time in Baltimore, it seemed like he was always on the injury report with a strained back, sore shoulder, or bruised ribs, among many more injuries. Regardless of the ailment, he persevered and led the Ravens during the 2006 season when they went 13-3 and won the AFC North. At the end of his career, it appeared his injuries finally caught up with him as the perennial hall of famer was forced to call it quits after 13 seasons.
However, his past statistics and achievements take a backseat to today's news that McNair, 36, was tragically shot and killed in Nashville. It is unclear exactly what happened but when it comes down to it, a young man and woman lost their life due to an act of gun violence.
On my way home today, I heard a piece of the Sporting News radio show during which they were discussing the link between professional athletes and violence. As of now, it does not appear that Steve McNair put himself in any danger. However, professional athletes, especially NFL players, seem to find themselves in the middle of dangerous situations. Sean Taylor, Darrent Williams, and Steve McNair are just a few of the athletes who have recently been killed or involved with gun violence. Their deaths give creedence to the notion that high-profile athletes are targeted more often than average joes. I've got to believe that professional athletes are going to feel more inclined to protect themselves.
Would you feel comfortable with more athletes wielding firearms for protection? Occasionally, professional athletes are the danger as seen through Tank Johnson's and Plaxico Burress' off the field gun-related problems. It is a very complicated issue that may never be fully resolved. As for now, our prayers go out to the McNair family as they mourn the loss of a true competitor.
Baltimore Beatdown Editor's Note: See the excellent story posted by our fellow SB Nation blogger for the Tennessee Titans by clicking here. Their fans deserve our messages of sympathy as well. Thanks.