Former Titans QB Steve McNair Laid to Rest Today-Just One More Perspective



McNair-Donn Jones-APLast week’s tragic death of former Titans quarterback Steve McNair, and the disturbing circumstances surrounding the case really put things into perspective.

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.

Number 9 will be sorely missed, and most assuredly, never forgotten. McNair-Donn Jones-AP-2


Has the WWE Forgotten Chyna, the “9th Wonder of the World”?

The WWE’s Real Dominant Diva


Over the past several months on Monday Night Raw, commentators Jerry “The King” Lawler and Micheal Cole have made some rather brazen comments.

On several occasions, while watching Beth “The Glamazon” Phoenix perform in ring, both commentators boldly crowned her  ” the most dominant diva the WWE has ever had.” I put great emphasis on the word ever. Why? Because WWE history tells us otherwise.

In 1997, a woman by the name of Joanie Laurer entered the WWE for the first time. The WWE billed her as Chyna , the name she’s been known by ever since, and the antithesis of her television persona.

As an ex bodybuilder, Chyna’s initial role was to play bodyguard to Triple H (Paul Levesque.) The role frequently called for her to interfere in his matches, insuring a favorable victory on his end. Her role remained fairly small until “The Show Stopper,”  Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) teamed up with the then regal (and arrogant) Triple H, to form the first version of the infamous faction, Degeneration X.

DX defined the WWE’s attitude era of the 90’s. Their rebellion towards authority (specifically towards the McMahon family, owners of the billion dollar company) and their crass catch phrase “suck it,” gained them a tremendous amount of popularity. WWE fans clamored for DX – they were the main event.

Shortly after forming DX however, Shawn Michaels was forced into a premature retirement. Nagging back injuries had finally taken their toll on the superstar. Triple H, left with only Chyna at his side, became head master. It was then that her role began to increase.

Seeing an opportunity to rise to the top of the WWE power ladder, Triple H started the recruiting process for the more notorious of the two DX factions. His selections would prove to be the perfect pieces to an incomplete puzzle.

Using the cerebral approach he’d become so well-known for, Triple H targeted the obnoxiously entertaining X-pac, formerly known as the 1-2-3 Kid (Sean Waltman.) Once he had “the Pac,” he moved in on members of the unruly tag team, The New Age Outlaws.

If “you didn’t knoooow,”  The New Age Outlaws were, “The Bad AssBilly Gunn (Monty Sopp) and The Road DoggJesse James” (Brian Gerard James.)

This faction of DX ruled the world of pro wrestling for two straight years, from 1997-1999. During this period, Chyna not only continued to interfere in matches, but she took part in them, both in tag team action and solo action. She couldn’t wrestle against the women, she was too powerful; more powerful than some of the men on the roster at the time.

(Fact: She’s the only woman in the history of the WWE to wrestle men on a consistent basis.)

After DX dissolved, Chyna briefly went on to join another faction formed by the owner/boss Vince McMahon, which was appropriately named, The Corporation.

From there she went solo and continued to break new ground in a predominately male world.

She was the first woman in WWE history (and the last) to enter the Royal Rumbleand qualify for King of the Ring. Her most impressive feat however, was when she captured the Intercontinental Championship, a title she held three times. Chyna was the first and last woman to accomplish this honor as well.

Towards the end of her career, when she began to tone down and focus on beauty, she held the Women’s Championship. She left the WWE in 2001, not long after winning the title.

So, the question is, have they really forgotten about Chyna, or have they chosen not to acknowledge her exploits because of her questionable (yet hilarious) post WWE career choices? (I.e. her reality tv show debacle, b-list movies, and her decision to jump on the celebrity sex tape bandwagon.)

Could it be a combination of all of these things, along with her very publicized struggle with abusive relationships, alcohol, and prescription drugs? My bet is on the latter- who could forget about a woman who forever changed the course of WWE history?

But, there’s a (big) hole in the aforementioned theory. Chyna is not the first WWE superstar, and she has certainly not been the last, to struggle with personal demons and have them publicized.

In fact, after the death of Eddie Guerrero, (Eduardo Guerrero) and the shocking murder/suicide death of Chris Benoit, both of which were tied to steroids and other drugs, the WWE took some major heat. This heat caused the franchise to implement a better drug testing system, and gave superstars with potential problems a chance to seek counseling before releasing them.

Conclusion? While Beth “The Glamazon” Phoenix is, at this moment, the most dominant diva in the WWE, she is most definitely not the most dominant diva the company has ever had.

Here’s another fact: Since Chyna’s departure from the WWE in 2001, not a single diva has come remotely close to breaking the kind of records she did. Credit should be given where credit is due. Put personal feelings aside, be professionals and give homage to the woman who changed the face of the WWE forever.