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Saturday, July 4, 2009
McNair set standard for Titans' quarterbacks

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

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As the Tennessee Titans' first starting quarterback, Steve McNair set standards in toughness, competitiveness and accountability that the franchise's quarterbacks will long be measured against.

Current Titans quarterback Kerry Collins is a pro. But any young, homegrown quarterback would be wise to research the McNair model and work hard to follow it.

He played, and played well, despite occasionally missing weeks of practice, enduring pain-killing shots that would help him drag a bad ankle or shoulder through a game, taking hits on a badly bruised sternum that made it difficult to breathe, let alone stare down an oncoming pass rusher.

Then, win or lose, no matter how long he had to spend in the trainer's room getting treatment, he would slowly dress and ultimately face the questions, handling them with grace and humor and whatever else the situation may have called for. As in his play, he always seemed to know just how to handle a potentially difficult situation.

And he stood up for his teammates too.

If the middling receiver he threw to on a crucial third down botched a route, you'd never learn about it from McNair. Everything was on McNair, and he never complained about his less than stellar receiving corps. He was the quarterback and he was charged with leading the team to wins no matter the injury, the supporting cast, or the circumstances. He always seemed to me to believe he could and should overcome these obstacles.

He was poised and calm, and those qualities helped others who might have been prone to panic.

McNair was appreciated for the way he handled himself. He helped a reinvented team make its only Super Bowl trip in its first season as the Tennessee Titans and earned a share of the MVP award in 2003. He rallied support for Hurricane Katrina victims in and around his home in Mississippi. He accepted responsibility when he faced a drunken driving charge that ultimately disappeared.

He already has a spot in the team's new ring of honor. But he hardly needed his name imprinted on a spot inside LP Field to leave an indelible mark.