McNair first became a curiosity in college at small-school Alcorn State, where he re-wrote the school's record book and became one of the most accomplished college QBs in NCAA history. McNair became the only player ever with 16,000 career yards of total offense, including NCAA marks for career total offense per game (400.5) and top average in a single season as a senior (527.2 in 1994). McNair finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting, the first Division I-AA player to finish in the top five since Jerry Rice in 1985.
Dream come true
McNair celebrated being selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 1995 draft by the Houston Oilers, along with then-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and McNair's mother, Lucille who was a single mother during his childhood and worked a factory graveyard shift to provide for Steve and his four brothers.
Mostly due to the major transition involved in coming from Division I-AA to the NFL at the time, the Oilers stayed patient and stuck with a plan of letting McNair watch and learn for the majority of his first two NFL seasons (1995-96). But the talented McNair still started four games in each season, quickly showing off his remarkable skills.
His time, his team
McNair was finally named full-time starter in 1997 as the team moved to Memphis for one season, becoming the Tennessee Oilers for a season. Despite a difficult transition year for the players due to the move and temporary status in Memphis, McNair kept the team together and quickly became a leader by example with his tough running and never-give-up scrambling.
In his first year as starter, McNair led the Oilers with eight rushing touchdowns, ranked second with 674 rushing yards (third-most by a QB in NFL history at that time) while also setting a franchise record for fewest interceptions thrown by a starting QB (13).
Won't back down
Fans became aware very quickly of McNair's toughness, always battling for extra yardage against opposing linemen when most QBs would slide or duck out of bounds. But McNair's unusual size at quarterback (6-2, 235) allowed him to give as good as he got especially against speed linebackers and defensive backs.
Clash of the Titans
On Halloween 1999, McNair's 5-1 Titans faced the high-powered 6-0 Rams in an eventual Super Bowl preview. Despite the Rams having had blown out their first six opponents by an average margin of 25.7 points/game, McNair's Titans toughed out a 24-21 win.
Pictured celebrating his first career playoff TD pass to Yancey Thigpen in the AFC title game, McNair beat the AFC's top-seeded Jacksonville Jaguars for the third time of the season the only team to beat the Jaguars in 1999 en route to McNair's only Super Bowl appearance.
We did it!
Steve McNair holds the Lamar Hunt trophy for winning the AFC Championship against the Jaguars after the Titans won 33-14.
I'm playing, period
McNair wore a cast due to a case of turf toe during media day and throughout much of Super Bowl week, but vowed he would not miss a Super Bowl Sunday snap.
Pictured escaping Rams linebacker London Fletcher in the fourth quarter, McNair came one yard shy of engineering the greatest Super Bowl comeback of all-time. The Titans trailed the heavily-favored Rams 16-0 in the third quarter, before McNair methodically and heroically drove the Titans for three field goals and a late fourth-quarter TD, only to see the Rams respond in winning, 23-16.
Class in defeat
McNair greets eventual Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner before Super Bowl XXXIV.
Playing with pain
In 2000, McNair earned his first Pro Bowl berth and despite several injuries, still toughed it out and started 15 of 16 games as the Titans went 13-3 in winning the AFC Central division title.
Leader by example
Despite a seemingly endless series of injuries throughout his career, McNair became known for never complaining, playing hurt and often still coming through at the end of games.
In 2001, McNair was unstoppable in Week 8 against the rival Jaguars by accounting for all four Titans touchdowns (two passing, two rushing), including a game-winning one-yard QB sneak with 44 seconds left in a 28-24 win. Eight of McNair's 10 carries secured first downs, and the stellar performance earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
A vintage McNair game: Entering Week 13 vs. the Giants, McNair was questionable due to a rib strain until kickoff. He not only played but led the Titans to a thrilling 32-29 OT win. He completed passes to nine different receivers, led two successful two-minute drives (one before halftime, another to send game into OT). His TD pass with nine seconds left made it 29-27, then McNair QB sneaked in for the game-tying two-point conversion before the cool McNair drove the Titans downfield in OT for the game-winning FG.
Forget about stopping Steve
In the 2002 AFC playoffs, McNair powered the Titans past the Steelers 34-31 with a dominant game (338 passing yards, 2 TD passes, one TD run). He was especially clutch in picking when to run, with six of his eight carries for first downs (including five coming during pivotal third-down plays).
A winning combination
Pictured embracing after Eddie George surpassed the 10,000-yard mark for his career in 2003, McNair and George were the dynamic duo of the Titans for eight seasons (1996-2003) before George moved on to play his final season in Dallas. In their eight years together, Tennessee had only one losing season and won four division titles.
Going back to the beginning
McNair was the first-ever draft pick for Titans head coach Jeff Fisher back in 1995, and developed a close trust on the field. McNair rewarded the franchise by being named NFL co-MVP in 2003 along with Colts QB Peyton Manning.
A real Pro
McNair made the Pro Bowl in Hawaii as an alternate after his final season in Tennessee in 2005. McNair ranks second in franchise history in nearly every passing category.
Raven about McNair
In 2006 McNair was traded to the Baltimore Ravens, and brought the team his late-game magic including leading this comeback win against the Chargers. Baltimore won the AFC North title in McNair's first season, finishing 13-3.
Thanks for everything
Steve McNair waves to the Titans crowd in his first trip back to play his former team during the 2006 season, an emotional Ravens victory.
Meeting of minds
McNair was coaching in Baltimore by current NFL on FOX analyst Brian Billick, who has called McNair one of the toughest players he's ever coached.
McNair, who died at the age of 36, is survived by his wife Mechelle and four children.