Skip to content

Steve McNair’s Death Shows That Friends Don’t Always Know Friends


With the tragic death of yet another star athlete, sports fans and the public in general were left stunned and reeling about the circumstances surrounding the death of former NFL quarterback Steve McNair and his 20-year-old girlfriend Sahel Kazemi, whom he had reportedly been dating for several months.

Following the initial shock regarding the reports of the deaths and whether this was a case of murder/suicide or homicide the public’s attention and scrutiny has turned to McNair’s apparent marital infidelity and its certain fatal consequences.

Donald Ray Ross of Hazlehurst, Miss., a longtime close friend of McNair, called rolling out this morning to express his feelings and share insight about McNair.

Mr. Ross said that in a recent phone conversation with McNair, the ex-athlete gave absolutely no indication that anything was wrong in his marriage or that he was involved in an illicit affair, compromising his public image or endangering his life. In retrospect, though, is that all that unusual for a “real” man, who’s been conditioned to keep what’s really going on inside? Sharing is not generally the focus of discussion.

“This is totally outside of his character. He’s a loving family man and a devoted father. He spent his life making contributions to other people and the community. He personally came here when Hurricane Katrina hit and worked with us to load 18 semi trucks with food and supplies for the disaster victims. I can’t understand how this thing could have happened,” lamented Ross.

With so many powerful public figures admitting infidelity, why did this one lead to two tragic deaths and scores of affected lives?

One school of thought is that the violence exhibited on the grid iron is bound to spill over into the personal lives of players, much like childhood soldiers who are so immersed in war and conditioned to killing that it is difficult or nearly impossible for them to change that behavior and their tendency to resort to what they know. But is this really an example of that? McNair was by no means a thug or bad boy – he was one of the “good” guys. McNair did not kill, he was killed.

Did, perhaps, McNair become so accustomed to adulation and star treatment that he felt immune to the consequences of his behavior? Did he not realize that escorting his 20 year-old mistress into his lifestyle of having the best and the most of everything might become an extremely addictive drug for her? Was he honest in his thinking that she would be amenable to returning to her former life if he were to leave? He had a wife and family to return to, where was she to go? Is the NFL responsible for that?

“The things he did coming from a small black college and the numbers he put up are what we should remember Steve for. People are looking at these guys every weekend and when anything comes up … whether it’s good or bad all eyes are on them. Everybody is human and we make mistakes. we just hope we get the chance to make up for them … when we can,” says Ross.

And Ross’ point is well taken, but bad choices and risky behaviors can lead to tragic outcomes, no matter who you are. Sometimes you don’t get a chance to correct your mistakes. –roz edward and sly