The League

Emil Steiner
Editor and Blogger

Emil Steiner

The author of NFL Crime Watch and Founding Editor of The League.

Mobile Revolution


My first memory of Steve McNair was the 1995 NFL Draft, when the Houston Oilers picked him at number three. He came from division I-AA Alcorn State, a small, historically black college whose most famous football alumnus was probably Jimmie Giles. But from the first footage I saw of McNair, I knew his potential was far bigger than his college.

Built more like a linebacker than quarterback, McNair scrambled like Randall Cunningham and was even harder to tackle. What must be remembered is that mobile quarterbacks were still something of a novelty in the early 90's. While not unheard of, the norm remained a pocket passer with a canon arm. Air McNair was both. His mobility forced defenses to sacrifice a linebacker or d-back as a spy against his scrambling, thereby limiting coverage on his receivers and opening them up for powerful throws. McNair's success popularized the scrambling quarterback and opened the door for such players as Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick.

My later memories of McNair were of his toughness and the pain he played through as a result of being so mobile. By all accounts he spent more time during the week on the trainer's table than on the practice field. But come Sunday, McNair -- held together by bandages, tape and grit -- would hobble out to gridiron and lead his team. That's why so many of his teammates respected him and why they have come out in such great numbers since Saturday to eulogize him.

While the details surrounding his murder remain murky, it is clear Steve McNair was a revolutionary quarterback and remarkable leader. As far as his work as a player on the field goes, that is how he should be remembered.

By Emil Steiner  |  July 6, 2009; 11:40 AM ET  | Category:  Baltimore Ravens , Crime , Draft , Emil Steiner , NFL , Philadelphia Eagles Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Steve McNair deserves a lot of credit for his accomplishments, but he did not introduce the "scrambling quarterback". Pull out a few old films of Fran Tarkenton. He played from 1961 to 1976, mainly for Minnesota. He ranks fourth among quarterbacks for rushing yards.
Then there was Randall Cunningham. You need to look at those history books.

Posted by: jcfrat | July 6, 2009 5:29 PM

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