"I'm still in shock since hearing the news yesterday. I spent all afternoon and night thinking about my life on and off the field with Pops. Since I was a teenager, he was like a father to me. I hear his advice in my head with everything I do. Life will be very different without him.
My thoughts and prayers are with Mechelle, the kids and the entire McNair family during this horrible time."
Former Oilers Quarterback Warren Moon
"Steve and I had a mutually respected friendship. He was one of the great warriors to ever put on a football uniform at any position. His competitiveness and toughness were unparalleled. He was always a gentlemen, and very giving off the field. One of the great people in our league was taken from us way to soon. My thoughts and prayers go out to the McNair Family, and all who knew him."
Former Titans Safety Blaine Bishop
"Yesterday was a sad day for all of us as former teammates and for the Titans organization. Steve was an absolute warrior as a player and brought that mindset to the team. Whether he was hurt or not, he was going to give us everything he had. He was the toughest player that I ever played with during my time in the league and a great man off the field – always giving. He was just a good country boy who was always laughing and smiling. Yesterday reinforced for me the fragility of life. My heart goes out to his family.
The thing I will always remember about him was whether it was a good or bad on the field, the whole team – both offense and defense – believed he would lead us to victory if we could just get the ball in his hands at the end of the game. His leadership skills spoke for themselves and you see everyone that has talked about him touched on that aspect of his game. He will be missed."
Former Titans Offensive Lineman Bruce Matthews (comments to The Tennessean)
"I just consider it a great honor to have played with him and I always appreciated the way he handled himself. He was a great leader in the huddle … and was the type of guy you want as a quarterback. He was the type of guy you wanted to play hard for because you knew he was giving it everything he had. What happened to him is just so shocking, and so sad.
"As football players you are almost taught to have an air of invincibility and even though we are retired there is a lot of, I think in some regard, of that same invincibility that lingers a little bit. Then something like this happens and it really makes you reexamine what's important.''
"There are very few individuals who have been able to climb the ladder as high as what Steve McNair was able to accomplish as a football player. But he didn't like playing the role of the superstar quarterback. And as linemen we could really relate to him. He had to play the role as the MVP quarterback and one of the most recognizable quarterbacks in the league, but he never got away from his roots. And there was this authenticity to him. It was never contrived with him and when he spoke in the huddle it resonated with every guy in there. It's one of those things like so many things in life that forces you to reexamine what it is you are doing and what's important.''
Former Titans Running Back Eddie George
(Transcribed from a conversation on ESPN today – 7/4)
(on his reaction)
I'm still in a state of shock. It was about two o'clock in the afternoon and I was driving in from Atlanta and initially when you hear stories like this, especially not from a reliable source, but okay it is rumors and it's nothing. As I kept getting phone calls, I got a phone call from a reliable source and it was confirmed that he was shot and killed, again I was still in disbelief and shocked by it all. In this situation, you can't help but go back to the great times we shared together on the field and off the field, bringing this team to Nashville and the whole transition and watching him mature into a great player after being scrutinized early in his career by the media and everyone else. To see what he has been able to accomplish in his lifetime and just knowing Steve, he was a great father to his sons and his children and just a pillar in the community. It is shocking and it is a great loss and I just feel for his wife and his sons because they lost a father and I know this morning on fourth of July that they were expecting to see their father come home and barbeque and be him. We are here supporting his family at Steve's house. From the Titans and everyone else we lost a great human being that brought so much joy to us. He was a great friend. Initially it is tough, but we will see this through.
(on the last time he talked with McNair)
It was about a month and a half ago, we talked briefly in passing really just about nothing, about his camp and how his retirement life is doing and treating him. We talked extensively last season when our jerseys were retired at the Titans Monday Night Football game against the Colts. It was good seeing him and going back over the good old times and talking football and talking about life, talking about fishing. One thing I could say is that he never got a chance to get me down to his farm and have a couple of drinks with him. It was something I always wanted to do. I never had that chance. Our families are really cool and tight and my son and Tyler grew up together. It is tough to watch them go through thing, it really is.
(on his lasting memory)
We had so many good times. Him coming back from surgery coming back against Pittsburgh and diving headfirst over the pile, obviously the Super Bowl and the drive that we fell a yard short, but the one thing that I do remember most about Steve was that we would both together before every game inside the tunnel shaking everybody's hand, every player, every coach, every trainer, everybody that was a part of the Titans family and as we were going out and as we finished, we would stop and look at each other and say, 'I love you.' That was kind of the completion, that was it, that we were going out to war. That is the one thing that I always remember, is that we would always be there for each other and for the team and it was always about family first. His memories will always last forever. He was a warrior. He played hurt. He played on one leg and still went out there and performed. It is tough and in Nashville, the community here is so small that they lost a hero, not just myself, but the entire community. They have embraced Steve McNair and his family. The whole city of Nashville is mourning right now.
(on what he was like in the huddle)
The man had ice running through his veins. He was so cool under pressure, so calm. He never raised his voice, never lost his composure. Obviously, he had moments when he was disappointed, but he had such a short memory that you really couldn't tell what Steve was thinking a lot of the time. He was never affected by a bad play. He was just the ultimate leader. He would just go in there and get hit from every angle and get up grimacing and out of breath, limping back, but not once did he ever fold and say that I can't go today. He would spend 90 percent of his time in the training room on the training table through the course of the year and go out and play his heart out on Sundays and that was Steve. He sacrificed himself and it wasn't about the money because if it was he wouldn't have done all that. It was about his willingness to win. It was about his heart. His heart spoke volumes. We rode off of his spirit and that is how it was. He was the heart and soul of our team.
(on how he will remember him)
I will remember Steve's smile, his laugh, his ability to cook – the man could cook – and just the human being that he was. We had some great time together, wonderful personality. The football thing was one thing and I remember his playing days, but just the human being. He brought so much joy to so many people. He was a consummate pro and he was a gentleman. He was a great father. He raised his boys very well, they are well-behaved. His legacy will live on. We say goodbye to Steve in the human form, but his spirit and his memory will always last forever. I'm here to celebrate my teammate, celebrate my friend, his life and support his family. We will see this through.
Former Titans Offensive Tackle Brad Hopkins
Your thoughts today on hearing the news about McNair?
"Things like this happen every day in the normal sector of life and you deal with it, but it takes on a different feel when you are dealing with someone as high profile as Steve and someone who meant so much too so many people. There are so many questions as to how this can happen and at this point it doesn't matter. The fact of it is this man is deceased and he leaves behind a family and they are the ones hurting the most and I am not thinking of anything else. My thoughts and my prayers go out to his family.
What did you think of him as a player and a teammate?
I have been talking about Steve McNair for years, because he was the face of our team. His worth and what he meant to us as players, it's almost immeasurable. Historically, he is recognized as "Titans football" and always will be. With this club and even the players you see today on the team, it all started with his group and it started with him. I can't even say enough about what he meant to that club and what he meant to the people in the stands. Everyone has their good years and bad years, but he was a warrior and a competitor. You wanted that kind of character and that kind of heart leading your team and he did that with style. He will be missed.
Anything else you would like to add?
He was a friend…..and anyone that has lost a friend knows there is nothing else that needs to be said.
Former Titans Tight End Frank Wycheck
Your thoughts today on hearing the news about McNair?
"Obviously shock and the tragic set of circumstances. I always described Steve as indestructible and for me this is just a surreal kind of moment. I am very sad for Steve's family and this is a time for reflection and to appreciate who Steve was. It is really just a kick in the gut to everybody.
What are your memories of him as a teammate and as a person?
"The behind the scenes things, what he really brought to the table and that was leadership, toughness – the definition of a true teammate and what a warrior was all about. To me and the people that played against him, he was the toughest player to ever play this game. He was a guy that everyone feared and played the game like no one else before. He started that mold as a two-way kind of guy – a tough guy that would do whatever it takes to win and was as hard to bring down as a fullback and a guy that could absolutely kill you with his athletic skill. To me, I think he had the respect of everyone whoever suited up with him and anyone who played against him."
Any other thoughts about Steve?
"He played the game the way it was supposed to be played, not for the glory, not for the press, not for the money, but because he was a true competitor and he wanted to prove a lot of people wrong. It was all about the love of the game and I think after his career he was a peace with where he was at with his family, his sons and what he was giving back to the community. It is a shame for this to happen. Talking with Eddie (George) and Dyson (Kevin) as his teammates, this is our time to keep his legacy alive and lift him up and let people know what he meant to us and to the Titans organization."
Any lasting image – a game, locker room scene or away from the field?
"I could talk about any number of plays, but to me it was about when he was getting knocked around, throwing his body around and walking back to the huddle, slowly. He would be a guy that would say, 'Hey guys, isn't this fun.' He would look guys in the eyes and I had a front row seat and to see the joy and the passion in his eyes that we were going to go get it done. He was going to lead us to victory. He always wanted us to stop stressing out and to have fun and it really was contagious."
Former Titans Wide Receiver Kevin Dyson
(Transcribed from interview with WSMV-TV today)
"I almost thought it was a joke, but then I kept getting text messages and phone calls. I saw Steve at Jeff Fisher's charity softball game just two weeks ago. We were talking about his restaurant opening up, his 17-year old son that's back home playing ball with the chance to play D-1. He talked about being retired and how he's adjusting. We talked about everything but football, really. He seemed very content. He was just happy being retired. To have his life taken away from him is bad for everybody in the community and back in Mississippi. As a player, he was pretty even keeled at quarterback and he wasn't going to be too high or too low. He didn't show a whole lot of emotion outside of playing ball. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family."
Former Titans Wide Receiver Derrick Mason
"Steve was such a happy person. I even called him 'Smile.' He was always smiling and was always willing to lend a hand to anyone who needed it. I've known him for 13 years, and he was the most selfless, happiest and friendliest person I have known. His family and my family are close, and it is a blow to us all. It is a devastating day. Steve will always have a place in my heart. My family and I are hurting for his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.
"On the field, there isn't player that was as tough as him, especially at the quarterback position. 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."
Former Titans Cornerback Samari Rolle
"Steve was the ultimate man, first of all. I played with Steve every year of my career, except for two, and got to know his family during that time. He was such a good family man. My prayers are with them at this tough time. I still can't even believe it. To lose such a good friend and a good man so soon doesn't make sense.
"If you were going to draw a football player, the physical part, the mental part, everything about being a professional, he is your guy. I can't even wrap my arms around it. It is a sad, sad day. The world lost a great man today."
Former Titans Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams
(transcribed from interview with NFL Network today)
"There was never any question about his heart, his toughness and his ability to play this game. He's one of my all-time favorite people that I've ever had the chance to be around. I think he was perfect for that organization at that particular time when all of a sudden a Hall of Famer had left the organization in Warren Moon and then Steve McNair comes in to fill those shoes. I have a lot of fond memories. He's meant a lot to many people. As I look back on him, one of the things I was most amazed about with him was his silent strength, the way he was able to lead people through example over words. I learned an awful lot watching him develop from a leadership role. Steve never was a big talker. He never was a person that bragged about himself or yelled and screamed at teammates. He was just a tremendous, tough example of what a tough man's game it is to play in the National Football League. People that think quarterbacks don't have to be tough should look at his track record and see what a tremendous, tough football player he was – and a tough man in general. We're going to miss him. He will be sorely missed. "
Former Oilers QB Dan Pastorini
Dan Pastorini was the Houston Oilers quarterback from 1971-79. McNair and Pastorini were both selected by the Oilers with the third overall pick in the NFL, Pastorini in 1971 and McNair in 1995. Much has been written and said about McNair's unquestioned toughness and for those who followed the Oilers during the Pastorini years, those same compliments were bestowed upon Pastorini. Dan reached out to a Titans staff member Saturday to express his condolences and reflect on his memories of Steve.
Dan, you were known to play with a lot of injuries also. What is it like to suit up for an NFL game when you aren't 100% physically?
"It's not easy at all. Steve was type of quarterback that I definitely admired. I met him as a rookie in Houston when he first came here under similar circumstances as me as a high first-round draft pick. I had a chance to interview him for TV show I was doing and saw his rawness coming into the league as young kid. Over time, you could see that he was maturing on the field and that he was seeing more things on the field. His toughness was a quality that is special for any quarterback and he had extraordinary toughness. I always liked the guys that played hurt and he definitely played hurt a lot in his career. "**
Do you have a special memory of Steve's career?
"I remember watching him in the Super Bowl and how well he did leading the team back in the second half after they fell behind. I've always been very impressed with him. He was just a phenomenal athlete, could have probably played many other positions and when he got on the field, you could tell how well his teammates responded to him. That's a big part of being a leader, being a quarterback, when you bring the absolute best out of your teammates. Steve was that kind of quarterback. He didn't seem to talk a lot, but when he did speak on the field, he commanded respect because he wasn't a guy who told you how good he was, he went out and showed you!"
Mike Heimerdinger, Titans offensive coordinator
"Right now the only thing I can say is I feel for Mechelle and his family and I'm praying for them. We can talk all the football stories you want later but right now Mechelle and the kids are the most important thing."
Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Peyton Manning
"Sharing the NFL MVP honor with him in 2003 was special because of what a great football player he was. I had the opportunity to play in a couple of Pro Bowls with him, and the time spent with him in Hawaii I'll never forget. I'll truly miss him. My condolences go out to his family."