Football

Ex-NFL star McNair shot to death

Longtime NFL quarterback Steve McNair was found shot to death in Nashville with multiple wounds, while a woman with him had one gunshot wound to the head, police in the Tennessee city said Saturday.

QB hit multiple times, woman friend shot once

Longtime NFL quarterback Steve McNair was found shot to death in Nashville with multiple wounds, while a woman with him had one gunshot wound to the head, police in the Tennessee city said Saturday.

McNair, 36, and the woman were found dead at a condo apartment complex, a police spokesperson said.

The former quarterback had been shot multiple times, including once in the head, police spokesman Don Aaron said. A pistol was found near the woman's body.

She was identified as 20-year-old Sahel Kazemi, a friend of McNair's. McNair was found on the sofa, Aaron said, and Kazemi was close to him on the floor.

Autopsies are planned for Sunday.

The bodies were discovered Saturday afternoon by McNair's long-time friend, Wayne Neeley, who said he rents the condo with McNair.

McNair's wife, Mechelle, is "very distraught," Aaron said, and police do not believe she was involved in the shootings.

"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."

"We are saddened and shocked to hear the news of Steve McNair's passing today. He was one of the finest players to play for our organization and one of the most beloved players by our fans," Titans owner K.S. (Bud) Adams Jr. said in a statement. 

"He played with unquestioned heart and leadership and led us to places that we had never reached, including our only Super Bowl. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they deal with his untimely passing."

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What they said

"Steve McNair was one of the greatest competitors I've ever played against. ... Many of our defensive players always talked about what a huge challenge it was having to play against him. He and I had some great battles against each other." —Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

"There wasn't a tougher quarterback out there. I've seen him take his shots, pull himself up off the ground and get back up in the huddle and not say a word." —Former Tennessee wide receiver Kevin Dyson.

"He would come into the restaurant and eat and talk to customers just like anyone else. You would not know he was a star. This hurts so very, very much. Our community is going to miss him." —Tennessee Senator Thelma Harper, a friend of McNair's who owns a restaurant near the one he recently opened.

"It's a bit of a shock. I'm a big Titans fan. I'm a big McNair fan. I can't imagine why anyone would want to do this. He's such a standup guy — he does so much work for the community, he has done so much for the city. I know we tend to idolize athletes but I always thought McNair was one of the few that was worthy of the adulation." —Ken Schrupp, resident of the Nashville neighbourhood where McNair's body was found.

"Steve was such a happy person. 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. It is a devastating day. Steve will always have a place in my heart." —Wide receiver Derrick Mason, who played with McNair in Tennessee and Baltimore.

Reached Super Bowl

McNair spent 13 seasons in the NFL, leading the Tennessee Titans to the Super Bowl in 2000, where they lost to the St. Louis Rams.

The final drive of that game was probably the most memorable moment of his career. He led the Titans 87 yards down the field but came up a few feet shy of tying the game on the final play.

Kevin Dyson caught McNair's pass but couldn't stretch the ball over the goal-line as he was tackled one yard away from the end-zone.

In June, McNair opened up a restaurant in Nashville. It became a small memorial on Saturday, where flowers, candles and notes had been placed outside the door.

He was named co-MVP of the NFL with fellow quarterback Peyton Manning, following a sterling 2003 season in which he threw for over 3,200 yards and 24 touchdowns, with just seven interceptions.

Worked with new Argos coach

Toronto Argonauts spokesman Eric Holmes told CBCSports.ca on Saturday night that head coach Bart Andrus was "deeply concerned" about McNair's death.

During his first of two stints with Tennessee, which lasted from 1997 until early 2000, Andrus worked with McNair, who was developing into an all-pro quarterback, and the two became friends.

For his career, McNair threw for 31,304 yards and 174 touchdowns, with 119 interceptions, and a career quarterback rating of 82.8.

McNair also ran for 3,590 yards with 37 rushing touchdowns.

Toughness defined McNair's career, and in the 2002 season with Tennessee this trait was dramatically evident. McNair spurred his team to a five-game winning streak to end the year, despite being unable to practise because he was so banged up, and led the Titans to an AFC Championship berth.

"He was tremendous leader and an absolute warrior," said former Titans GM Floyd Reese, who is now a senior football adviser with the New England Patriots.

"He felt like it was his responsibility to lead by working hard every day, no matter what."

McNair was selected third overall in the 1995 NFL draft out of Alcorn State by the Houston Oilers, who moved two years later to Tennessee. He finished his career with two seasons in Baltimore, retiring in April 2008.

With files from The Associated Press