Tag Archives: Houston Oilers

Remembering Steve McNair

4 Jul

July 4, 2009 – People throughout Nashville and the Middle Tennessee area were getting ready for a big Fourth of July celebration. The huge fireworks show in downtown was being prepared. Streets were being blocked off for the crowds. People were cooking out in the surrounding counties. I had just shown up at my friend’s house in Rutherford County.

That is when the shocking news began to spread. I got texts. We turned on the television. News vans had descended on a condo in Nashville where Steve McNair was found dead.Steve McNair

I did not know Steve McNair. One night, I saw him shooting pool in a bar, but that does not mean you know someone. However, I was one of thousands of people who walked into a football stadium and watched him play quarterback for the Tennessee Titans.

He was more than a quarterback. He was the icon of a city. When the Houston Oilers became the Tennessee Titans, a lot of people thought it would never work. Nashville was not big enough to support an NFL team. The first years proved the doubters right as the team struggled in Memphis and at Vanderbilt’s stadium before getting a home of their own. As the team struggled, Steve McNair got much of the blame.

However, when they got into the new stadium, the abilities of McNair and the rest of the team appeared. Imagine not having an NFL team in your city then getting one. Take your imagination further and think about how it would feel if that team went to the Super Bowl in their first year. On top of that, include a miracle play that propelled them on the magical run.

That year was great, and the fans were spoiled. Heck, this must be the way it is going to be every year.

I was in the Georgia Dome when Steve McNair almost completed one of the great comebacks in Super Bowl history. The team fell one yard short, but it epitomized what we would see from him in the years to come.

Steve McNair was a quarterback, but he was also a leader. He showed his toughness by playing hurt and running over defenders. He proved his college nickname of “Air McNair” was true when he won the MVP award. People admired him for his leadership and his ability. It was as if nothing could bring Steve McNair down.

Five years ago, that was proven wrong. As the days passed, the coverage of his death was constantly on television. It was one of the biggest news stories in Nashville’s history. People wondered what happened, and, eventually, the police told us. Steve McNair was the victim of a murder/suicide carried out by a young woman he had a relationship with. Obviously, that young woman was not his wife.

I am not here to judge him on his decisions. I am here to say that those who saw him play will remember those great games, but they will also remember when they heard the news of his death. On July 4, the people of Middle Tennessee celebrate Independence Day with fireworks and cookouts. However, many of them will also think about Steve McNair; the impact he had on this area; and the tragedy that befell him.

A Brief Look at the Historical Legacy of Lebanon, Tennessee

19 Aug

I just started a new book by Andrew Carroll called Here is Where, about a journey to find historic places that have been lost to, well, history. Although I am only a few pages in, it promises to be a good read about his journey to find these places and the people he met along the way.

It has also made me think about the history of my town. In class, we talk about the big events and people who took part in them, but history is local. There are a lot of amazing stories about people and events that we have never heard of. They are important to the towns in which they lived, but their notoriety doesn’t go past the city limits. My town is full of history.

Of course, some people don’t believe that. Several years ago, I was in a meeting, and a lady said that we had no history. That’s when I rattled off a list that included some of the following.

My workplace, Cumberland University was founded in 1842. Thousands of students have passed through its doors, but none are more important that Cordell Hull.Cordell Hull

Never heard of him? Well, he was Secretary of State under Franklin Roosevelt and known as the “Father of the United Nations”. He was also a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Of course, his time as Secretary of State was in and around World War II. During that time, Cumberland University also played an important role as the headquarters of the Tennessee Maneuvers, a series of war games to prepare for the invasion of Europe. Soldiers fought battles and captures town all of Middle Tennessee. General George Patton was in charge of the Maneuvers and spent some time in town. I have heard that his private plane was still at the local airport when he was killed.George Patton

Another military leader started his career in town. Sam Houston opened his first law office on the square.Sam Houston

He went on to become governor of Tennessee, an office from which he would resign under mysterious circumstances. It was then that he went to Texas and became one of the leaders of the fight for independence from Mexico. After victory, Houston became the president of the nation of Texas and the governor of the state of Texas.

I always thought it was fitting that the Houston Oilers became the Tennessee Titans. They were just coming back home.

Following the military theme, Castle Heights Military Academy opened in 1902 and was a top private school for decades. Kids were sent from all over the world for a regimental education. The local girls loved them. The local guys didn’t care for them all that much. Thousands of students marched the grounds of Castle Heights, and some of them became famous. Can you imagine Gregg and Duane Allman in a military school?Allman Brothers

Me neither. However, they spent time at Castle Heights.

Another famous rock star spent time here while he was doing some recording in Nashville. Paul McCartney showed up with Wings and stayed at a local farm.Paul McCartney

He even wrote a song about it.

The farm was owned, and is still owned by Curly Putman, who wrote “He Stopped Loving Her Today“, considered by most to be the best country song ever recorded.

Oh, there’s one more thing that is of some historic note. Cracker Barrel was founded here by Danny Evins, who started serving food to attract people to his gas station.Cracker Barrel

The next time you get Uncle Herschel’s breakfast you should remember that Uncle Herschel was from here, too.