Jeff Fisher, Eddie George Comments on Death of Steve McNair

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HEAD COACH JEFF FISHER**

(opening comments)

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In the spring of 1995, I left Houston to go down to Alcorn State University to witness a workout of an up-and-coming, very talented young quarterback with part of our staff. We got there and his mom, Lucille, had food for everybody. We spent the day with him on and off the field, in the classroom, and as we got in the car to head back to Houston, we were unanimous as a staff that this young man was special. He was special and he was going to be special. So here we are 15 years later and he is no longer with us.

As I sat in my office moments ago pondering what to say, it occurred to me say what the Steve McNair you knew would want you to say. The Steve that I knew if he were here right now would want me to say, 'Mechelle, I love you. Tyler, Trent, Steven, Junior, I love you.' That is what he would want me to say, the Steve that I knew. 'Lucille, Fred, everybody, I love you.' The Steve McNair that I knew would want me to say, 'I'm sorry. I'm not perfect. We all make decisions sometimes that are not in the best interest. Please forgive me.' The Steve McNair that I knew would want me to say, 'Celebrate my life, for what I did on the field, for what I did in the community, the kind of teammate that I was." That is what Steve that I knew would want me to say.

I have known him for 15 years. We endured wins and losses, joy and laughter, sadness. I've watched one of the greatest competitors of all-time on the field do whatever it took to stay on the field. I watched one of the best teammates you could ever have, be a teammate to everybody, to extend a hand to everybody.

The Steve McNair that I knew was a great person. He, along with these teammates here, put this organization on the map here in Tennessee, put us in our first Super Bowl. I think you all realize everything he did in between.

I will miss him, as we will all miss him. I ask you to honor what he did on the field and in the community and what he was as a tremendous teammate. That is his legacy and I'm proud to have been a part of that.

(on his most lasting memory of McNair on the field)

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There are so many great moments, great wins: the Giants win, the Tampa Bay keeper. There are so many great moments. I will just say this, the memory that kept popping into my head as I was traveling the last couple of days was Thanksgiving week of 2005, we all know how he was physically. I happened to be over at Baptist Hospital, my son Brandon was having some minor surgery on a Tuesday on a day-off and I was in the recovery room waiting for Brandon to come in and I happened to look out in the hallway and Steve walked across with a walker with Mechelle by his side and he was there to get an epidural injection in his back just so he could walk and practice that week. Those types of stories are those that you have never heard of. You witnessed the moments on the field and the comebacks and all those kind of things, but it was those things that made him special.

(on how he found out)

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I had an opportunity to experience a once in a lifetime trip over the last five or six days with four other coaches, Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, Tom Coughlin and John Harbaugh. I would love to go into that another time, that experience and I'll share that with you. To answer your question Paul, we were hustling back from Baghdad to Kuwait to the airport to try to make our flight and it was going to be difficult to make and as I got off the aircraft on the runway from my phone and I had service in Kuwait and I had a number of calls come up and as I was looking at the numbers, Eddie [George] called me and gave me the news.

(on his memorable embrace with McNair following the Super Bowl and whether he wanted to share what was said)

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That is between Steve and I and it will always be between Steve and I.

(on if any of the coaches he was traveling with had been through something like this and if they had any advice)

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No. We were caught up trying to get back home, but I was with John Harbaugh and I appreciate the texts through John to me from Ray Lewis, Samari [Rolle] and Derrick [Mason] and some of the other players that had found out and wanted to offer their condolences.

(on his emotions during the long flight back)

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Personally, we all have to deal with the loss and personally I had a lot of emotions, especially the emotions coming from the trip and everything which were incredible. I just immediately started reflecting.

(on what McNair meant to the organization when moving from Houston to Memphis to Nashville)

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He along with Eddie [George], Frank [Wycheck], Brad [Hopkins] and some of the teammates, they were the poster boys of this franchise. They put us once again in the National Football League because I think for a few years we disappeared going through what we were going through during that process. When we finally got to town and got settled in 1999 it is obvious what happened. He was a tremendous part of that. I remember the surgery and being out four weeks and coming back with that spectacular dive across the goal-line against Pittsburgh and he is back and those kinds of things. That is what he meant to us.

(on McNair's lasting quality)

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He was a very, very quiet competitor. He had this internal drive, this motivation that as coaches we would like to tap into and spread around. It was a very unique quality. And then he had this affection for "Gun Smoke" and "Andy Griffith" and "Walker: Texas Ranger" on Saturday night before games.

(on McNair's connection with Nashville)

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He loved Nashville. I talked to him also about his experience in Baltimore and he loved that experience from Steve Bisciotti to Ozzie [Newsome] through Brian [Billick] and all his teammates, he loved that experience, but this was his home. He was an Oiler, he was a Titan and this was his home.

(on how often they stayed in touch)

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I didn't tamper with him, but I would call and wish him luck. I followed him very closely. Teammates they talk and so I knew how he was doing. He was excited about another opportunity. It was difficult on him in 2004 and 2005 physically to compete here, but he dedicated himself that offseason where we had difficulties. Once the trade was done, he was excited to start over again.

(on what he tells his current players about McNair the player)

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I think that anyone who is associated with the National Football League will know what Steve McNair did on the field. It was just an incredible career.

(on this event being a first of its kind in Nashville pro sports and how it will affect the fans)

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I think we all are given the right to judge and my hope is that Steve will be remembered and also forgiven, but remembered for what he did and what he meant to this organization.

(on whether the circumstances surrounding his death will affect his legacy)

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My hope is that we can get past the circumstances and let those go and dwell and stay focused on the type of player and person that he was.

(on his friendship and how big of a hole is left)

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This is still a shock to me. I'm sure over the next few days, it is going to be hard. This is hard on everybody, this is not an easy thing. There will be a void, but again I will fill that void with those memories. That is what we have to do.

(on reaching out to his family)

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Yes. That is a personal thing.

(on any plans the team has to memorialize McNair)

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Again, you know, it's all so soon, Dave. The organization, we will do – the National Football League and everyone else – will do the right things as far as Steve's life is concerned.

(on Fisher's last interaction with McNair at Fisher's charity softball tournament)

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Yeah, we just hugged each other, and he said he was getting going, you know. The boys were there, Mechelle was there, and they were going to enjoy the summer. We also talked about the possibility of coming to camp because Steve, in the back of his mind, wanted to stay in the game. I think he was pondering, maybe, getting into coaching, and so I extended an opportunity for him to come by camp and just kind of share some time with us this summer.

(on how the events changed Fisher's plans for the next couple weeks)

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Obviously this was some time off. I was going to come back and just kind of rest and recover and reflect on my experience in the Persian Gulf.

(on McNair setting a standard for Titans quarterbacks that followed him)

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Well, I think he sets a standard for players in general because of the way he was and as competitive as he was and as tough as he was. You know, he's going to show up every single day, and if he can walk, he was going to play.

(on how content McNair was with his choice to retire)

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Well, he gave it everything he had, and he's like most players. At some point, the body doesn't allow you to do what you want to do and stay competitive. He realized that, and that's why he walked away. There's very few guys – I'm sitting here and Brad and Blaine and Eddie – they walked away on their own terms, and that's what Steve did. If you can walk away on your own terms and look yourself in the eye and know that you gave it everything you had, there's something to be said for that. Last question.

(on if he has discussed the situation with Vince Young)

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I have not yet. My understanding is that Vince is out of town, but we'll be getting together with all of his former teammates and (current) teammates in the next few days. Again, I thank you very much for this opportunity, and I just ask that you pray for Mechelle and Steve's family. Thank you.

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EDDIE GEORGE**

(opening comments)

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I said what I had to say, I guess, to most of you over the last few days. It is a devastating loss for the community, for the organization, for our former teammates. This is not an easy thing to do. All we can do is just rally around each other, pray for Steve's family, pray for Steve and, like Jeff mentioned, get past the circumstances and look at the human being that we were all impacted by. Because he blessed us with so many memories and so many great times, and he really has had a positive impact on this community, and I will miss him dearly.

(on breaking the news to Fisher over the phone)

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I wasn't trying to break the news to Jeff; I just wanted to get some type of confirmation because it was shocking to hear to begin with. You hear rumors, you get text messages, and you just disregard it. But when you hear from a reliable source that it was true, you know, I wanted to know if Jeff knew, if he knew anything. It was a difficult situation, you know, driving back from Atlanta with your family. My sister asked me to pull over a few times, but I was just so in shock of the news that I just felt compelled to reach out to other teammates and just to hear about it.

(on if he was ever worried McNair would be involved in violence)

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No.

(on if he ever talked to McNair about the subject)

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No.

(on how the circumstances of McNair's death have affected what George is thinking)

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I am saddened by the loss of a dear friend, and I'm not in a position to judge anyone or to be judged. That's left up to God. He was close to me. We came into this organization together. We built something together with Brad and Blaine. You talk about the nomadic years – that was tough. Led by Jeff Fisher, I mean, that was some tough times, and all we had was us. So I know the type of person Steve is; I know the type of father he was. He was a dedicated father. He was very involved in all of his sons' lives. He was committed to us, committed to the community. You know, we all make mistakes we all wish we could go back on, but I'm not here to dwell on that. I'm here to celebrate the life of a dear friend and teammate.

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