For several years now, there has been a growing trend; an infamous trend that has seen the deaths of many posh superstars whose advantageous lifestyles have seemingly destroyed them. There was WWE superstar Eddie Guerrero, who died in 2005. Then, two years later, the murder/suicide involving yet another WWE superstar, Chris Benoit. A few months prior to Benoit’s death, ( not so surprisingly) Anna Nicole Smith was found dead, and one year after her death came the highly unexpected deaths of actors Brad Renfro and Heath Ledger.
Now, in the year 2009, and in about two months time, we have seen the deaths of actor David Carradine, Ed McMahon, actress Farrah Fawcett, infomercial icon Billy Mays, (the last three being the only three to die of natural causes) and “The King of Pop,” Michael Jackson. McNair’s name being added to this dreadful list hit a little too close to home.
I’ll be the first to admit, I am a huge Steve McNair fan, so much so, that when he was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in 2006 I became a part-time Ravens fan. The derision shown to me by fellow Titans fans was to be expected, after all the Baltimore Ravens were a long time rival.
Cat calling or not, I was unwavering in my decision to follow the Ravens, because it was Steve “Air” McNair whom I was truly a fan of, even after he began taking media and fan criticism for his susceptibility to bodily injury. Of the many quarterbacks in the league, both past and present, I can’t readily recall another quarterback who took as much punishment on the field as McNair did during his 13 years in the NFL; not to mention the number of injuries he played through to lead the Titans on to victory. Outside of football however, he seemed to struggle with ambivalence.
McNair’s affinity for the Nashville and Middle Tennessee communities has been well documented through his extensive charity work, his eagerness to interact with fans, and his notably popular football camp for kids. It’s clear to me and to those who were closest to him that he had good intentions and a good heart, but it’s important to remember that celebrities are human beings too. It is too often that we forget this, and in doing so we unintentionally put these celebrities up on Mt. Olympus alongside all the other mythological Gods. When we do this, we lose sight of human nature, which is plagued by mistakes and lessons to be learned. McNair certainly made plenty of mistakes in his personal life, namely the DUI charges and the rumors that have circulated for years about his being unfaithful to his wife.
These allegations don’t make him a bad person, but rather a person who repeatedly made bad judgment calls. There is an old adage, “When you play with fire, you’re bound to get burned.” Knowing what we know now, that Ms. Kazemi murdered McNair and then took her own life only adds more questions, dousing an already fulgent flame with an insidious amount of gasoline. Perhaps what makes this particular situation so difficult, is that deep down we know that there are consequences for our actions.
By no means did McNair’s misleading behavior give Ms. Kazemi the right to take a life, no one should be able or willing to make that judgement call, but as a grown man, McNair was responsible for his own actions. He was a married man dating a 20-year-old woman, Sahel Kazemi, who just two days prior had been arrested for her own DUI as McNair sat next to her in the passenger seat. He then made the decision to bail her out. Had he not made these decisions, maybe he would still be alive, but we can’t dwell on what could have been. The only thing we can do is hope to move on eventually, while learning the hardest of life’s lessons and keeping the fondest of memories in mind.