By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
McNair And The Ravens: So Far, So Good
NORTH CAROLINA — When Steve McNair and the Tennessee Titans decided to part ways and McNair signed with the Baltimore Ravens, the views expressed across the football world were mixed and skeptical.
At 33, some think he is well past his prime while others feel “brotha man got game”. Proponents of McNair felt the Ravens got a veteran that can still play and can still lead a team to a Superbowl. Opponents of McNair feel too many injuries and too much time and his devaluation eventually will catch up to him and the Ravens that could be disastrous if not this year, the next.
After going up against the hated Ravens for the first 10 years of his NFL career, Steve McNair now tries to lead the Ravens back to the Super Bowl for a chance at a second championship for the franchise and their first trip back to the big game since 2001.
McNair signed a five-year deal with the Ravens including an $11 million signing bonus and $1 million salary for 2006.
So with the Titans struggling abominably in the AFC South while the Ravens are in control of the AFC North, who do you think is happier at this time?
Do you think The Titans organization and fans regret abolishing McNair? How estatic do you think Brian Billick and the Ravens are with the acquisition of McNair?
Some of you may want to look at McNair career stats and current stats to make your conclusions so let’s take a look:
THE “AIR” FILE
–Three-time Pro Bowler (2000, 2003 and 2005)
– 2003 NFL co-Most Valuable Player
– Entering 2006, McNair has played in 139 career regular season games, starting 131, as well as 9 postseason games, including leading the Titans to the Super Bowl in 1999
– He has thrown for 27,141 passing yards (2nd in Titans franchise history – to Hall of Famer Warren Moon)
– Owns a 59.5 career completion percentage (2,305 of 3,871 – 2nd in team history behind Moon)
– 156 TD passes (3rd in franchise history behind Moon and George Blanda)
– Rushed for 3,439 yards and 36 TDs on the ground, making him 1 of only 5 players in NFL history to have passed for 20,000 yards and rushed for 3,000 yards (John Elway, Fran Tarkenton, Steve Young and Randall Cunningham)
– Boasts an 83.3 career passer rating, ranking him 22nd in NFL annals (minimum 1,500 attempts)
– Is fourth place all time among QBs with 3,439 career rushing yards, trailing only Randall Cunningham (4,928), Steve Young (4,239) and Fran Tarkenton (3,674)
– His rushing total ranks 5th in Titans history, and he leads all NFL QBs in rushing since he became a starter in 1997 with 3,232 yards
– First QB since the 1970 NFL merger to twice rush for 8 TDs in a season (1997 and 1999), and his 1997 rushing total of 674 yards was at the time, the 3rd-highest rushing total by a QB in NFL history behind Randall Cunningham (942 yards in 1990) and Bobby Douglas (968 yards in 1972)
– McNair has produced at least 1 TD (passing and/or rushing) in 57 of his last 65 regular season games
– McNair’s 27,141 career passing yards rank 8th among all QBs who were active in 2005, behind Brett Favre, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Bledsoe, Kerry Collins, Peyton Manning, Mark Brunell and Jake Plummer
– Of the 10 active passers with 25,000 or more passing yards, which additionally includes Brad Johnson and Trent Green, McNair has the 5th-best completion percentage (59.5), the 6th-best passer rating (83.3) and the 2nd-lowest INT percentage (2.7)
– McNair posted a string of 23 games in which he passed for at least 1 TD (10/14/01-11/24/02), breaking Moon’s franchise mark of 21
– He was also one of only four QBs in Houston/Tennessee history to pass for 3,000 yards in a season (1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005), joining Moon, George Blanda and Ken Stabler, and only the 2nd to reach the mark in 3 consecutive seasons (Moon, 1989-1991)
– He became the youngest of the 4 to hit the 3,000-yard mark in 1998, and in 2002, at the age of 29, he became the Titans’ franchise’s youngest quarterback to reach 100 TD passes (Moon, 33)
– With the Titans in 2005, McNair earned his 3rd Pro Bowl berth while passing for 3,161 yards (5th-highest of his career), completing 61.3 percent of his passes (tied for the 4th-best of his career), 16 TDs and a 82.4 QB rating.
– Despite playing in just eight games in 2004 due to a sternum injury, McNair still managed to complete 129 of 215 passes (60%) for 1,343 yards and eight TDs…He also rushed for 128 yards and a TD
– Has also been named Sports Illustrated Player of the Year, SI All-Pro, 2nd-team AP All-Pro, Football Digest 2nd-team All-Pro and captain of Howie Long’s Tough Guy Team
Those are just some of accolades and accomplishments “Air” has achieved. Let’s look at his stats for this year: Thru eight games, McNair has 223 attempts, with 133 completions for 59.6 percent with 1319 yards, with 7 touchdowns, 7 interceptions with a 73.8 quarterback rating. Great numbers? No. Great leadership? Yes.
You see, what McNair brings to an already talented Ravens team is what we call INTANGIBLES.
Intangible, words and phrases affixed to McNair such as leadership, toughness, the will to win, heart, drive, desire, resilient, resolve, a battler, intelligence, respect, admiration, savvy, determination, a closer, a team player, field general, knowledge of the game, cool under pressure and perseverance.
These are the endowments shown by McNair that was defective in the quarterbacks preceding his arrival. From Kyle Boller to Kordell Stewart, the Ravens have not had the kind of conductor of the offense since arguably Trent Dilfer led the attack in 2001 for their first and only Super Bowl championship.
In closing, McNair, will never be defined by the statistical numbers nor by league MVP’S or other awards and achievements but by the leadership he displays on and off the field.
Whether is the sense of calmness he brings to an offense in a time of urgency and desperation, the mentoring he demonstrates with younger or less experience players or the determination or will to win he exudes when the game is on the line or when the game seems improbable to win.
McNair is a winner. A winner as a player, athlete, teammate, leader, quarterback and more importantly a man. He is a champion even without the ring on display.
And let’s face it, a few more yards versus the St Louis Rams in the Super Bowl and he could be driving towards his second championship. We will have to see how it all unfolds as there is still a second half of football drama to be played.
Not only is winning is scored on the field but in life and how your impact on the world and the lives you help along the way.
McNair has shown the unique ability to prove his talent and worth on the field while showing also displaying intangibles of a champion.
With the Ravens sitting up top of the AFC North with a two game lead over the Bengals and a commanding four game lead over MY DEFENDING SUPERBOWL CHUMPS, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the future is bright and promising.
As a Steeler fan, I will continue to root against the Ravens per annum, as a fan of Steve McNair’s, I will continue to cheer for him. At least this year.