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Nashville Mourns Its Fallen Star?

Steve McNair put to rest.

By 7.14.09

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They say five thousand Nashvillians turned out to moan and mourn the passing of Steve McNair, encouraged perhaps by the headline on the Washington Post front page tease as "the city in which Steve McNair achieved stardom." The tease adds that the "positive memories of his life far outweigh the troubling details of his death."

Those troubling notions are further outlined in the main sports section story, which is also headlined: "Accentuate the Positive." We get a hint from the staff writer's lead: "This city has always kept its secrets well hidden, tucking imprudence away from the lights of music marquees, sequestering it behind closed doors." If so, how ever did we find out that McNair's passing was occasioned by two bullets to the head and two more to the chest, administered by a 20-year-old woman who then put a fatal bullet in her own head? Another troubling detail; the woman's name was Sahel Kazemi, not Mrs. Mechelle McNair. And, according to police, she had complained to friends, just before she bought the gun, that she suspected McNair of seeing another girl, and not only her, in the brick townhouse they shared.

The "accentuate the positive" goes on to explain that she was "too young and naive to understand the subtleties of his lifestyle, mistaking vacations and the gift of a Cadillac Escalade for a declaration of love." Now, how dumb can a girl get? There survives a Mrs. McNair, and four boys, two of whom said to have been fathered by McNair with wife Mechelle. The story quotes friends as saying McNair was never going to leave his wife. He was just going to do -- what so many overpaid sports stars do. And, as one fan wrote on the window of Steve NcNair's Gridiron 9 restaurant, "Steve, we forgive you."

For the record, McNair was an NFL quarterback who never won a championship but led the Titans to the 1999 Super Bowl, and had been traded some years later to the Baltimore Ravens. But he did good in Nashville, ran free football camps, positioned his restaurant just across from the Tennessee State U. campus, in the black community. For two days his old team, the Titans, threw open the main gate of their stadium and supplied eight giant notebook binders filled with papers for mourners to record their grief. Heard often was the sub-Mason-Dixon phrase: "He was good people." He was 36.

True, there had been a couple of DUI charges along the way, which were dropped. As a longtime teammate said of the manner of death and Nashville's reaction, "They know it doesn't look great, but they're intelligent enough to look past that and see what he's about."

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About the Author

Reid Collins is a former CBS and CNN news correspondent.