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Gregg Williams on McNair's Death

The Post's Paul Tenorio spoke to former Titans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams about the death of quarterback Steve McNair.

Williams spoke at length of today's news reminding him of the shooting death of Redskins safety Sean Taylor, and of his memories of McNair when both were in Tennessee.

This is what Williams said:

"I'll tell you this: The first thought that popped into my head was all the flood of memories, going through this same ordeal with Sean Taylor. And I don't think any parent, or any close person of anyone, that gets that phone call when a loved one and someone very close to you gets shot and killed--that's pretty devastating.

"That's the first thought that went through my head when my wife called after it went public. I immediately thought of Sean and actually I spoke with Sean's dad today and spoke with him and said happy Fourth of July and had a great conversation back and forth with him about Sean and then I got the phone call [about] Steve.

"My oldest son grew up in that locker room, and Blake broke down emotionally when he found out about it and it was tough. Steve McNair and Eddie George were his--probably the first of his--boyhood idols. And last year I flew back into Nashville for Jeff Fisher's 50th and he didn't know Steve, Eddie George and I were showing up. And that's the last time I talked to [Steve], was last spring for Jeff's 50th. He got a chance to meet my youngest son Chase, and they were so impressed with Chase and spending that night with him and that's what we've been remembering today.

"I was there in the war room the day we drafted him and I was there when we took the slow process of bringing him along slowly and not try to throw him to the wolves too quick. And I can remember him getting his opportunities in small doses that second year in the league and us turning it over to him his third year in the league and being side by side all those years and finishing a yard short in the Super Bowl. Offensively we didn't play well that first half and the second half, Steve McNair put the team on his back and he put us a yard away from winning the Super Bowl, or putting us in position to win that Super Bowl, and it was a remarkable game and a remarkable feat.

"One of the things I learned from him was what a silent leader is. Sometime people try to force leadership on themselves or other people by talking too much and people tune you out. He wasn't a vocal, in-your-face leader. He was an example by how hard he played the game. You had to respect him by how he played the game, so when he did speak you listened to him. It was a great testament to the kind of tough guy he was.

"I will tell you this: People that want to be flamboyant, people that want to stand out and be individuals, that's not Steve McNair. Steve McNair was a person comfortable in his own skin, comfortable in his own ability and comfortable as his own player. But off the field, that's why you had to respect him. He wasn't a person that had to show people all the bling-bling-bling of what a sports professional was. That's not how he was. He came from the country of Mississippi and that's what he was. A hard-working, hard-nosed country boy that finally got something that he wanted to share with other people. And he had a big, charitable heart, whether it was with his time, money or whatever. He came back. And that's the model of what we all should be, of people think that we're more than we are as sports professionals. We're just regular people, and that was Steve. He was just a regular person, a regular person away from where he played, and I respected him so much for that.

"I haven't talked to any of the guys. I have talked with Jerry Gray because Jerry Gray was with me in those times. I took Jerry Gray to Buffalo and the Redskins. We're trying to find out more. He was reaching out to as many players as he could. As I will, too. I've been inundated with so many other types of calls. Jeff Fisher is in the Middle East and I left a voice mail with him because he's my closest friend in coaching. We've all got to pull together and be there for everyone that was close to him. We have to help each other out in these tough times.

"That one [Super Bowl memory] is in the top three. But the one I know, no doubt in my mind I can remember, we were in the end of our second year and we were going to play the last game of the season against the Baltimore Ravens, playing the last game in old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.

"We turned the reins over to Steve in that last game, we let him start that last game. It was fourth and two and a half yards just across midfield early in the fourth quarter of that ballgame. And I'm on defense coaching the defense and I go over there and it's a timeout and I'm leaning over the shoulder of Jeff Fisher listening to what play we're going to run, so I know [if] we have a chance. And Steve starts arguing about running a quarterback sneak. They have Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams, these great big fat... guys and we know they're going to put about 1,000 pounds... right over Steve to make sure he can't sneak. And Steve is adamant. It is fourth and two and half, there's no way we should run a quarterback sneak. Jeff looks at me and I look at Jeff and I look at Steve and I say, 'Go with what he wants to do over what we want to do.'

"And he says, 'Go with it.' And there's no way we should get a first down. And Steve McNair plows his way for three and a half yards and he comes up from under the pile and he had about a 12-inch section of sod that he had dug in with his helmet when he finally went down that was hanging from his helmet. And I looked at Jeff and I said, 'We got us a quarterback.' I remember that play. I still get goose bumps when I think of that play."

By Mark Maske  |  July 4, 2009; 7:29 PM ET  | Category:  Crime , Ravens , Titans Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Thanks for posting this. Great tribute to Steve McNair from a first-rate coach.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | July 4, 2009 8:20 PM

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