Murdered NFL star, Steve McNair, was laid to rest today, Saturday, July 11. His was one of the biggest funerals in recent Mississippi history as thousands gathered to say their goodbyes.
From The Associated Press:
At least 4,500 turned out, though organizers anticipated a capacity crowd of 8,000 at Reed Green Coliseum on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. Most of McNair’s hometown of Mount Olive also arrived thanks to buses rented by the McNairs, and hundreds came out Friday night for a visitation. A private burial was to follow in Mount Olive.
The hearse carrying McNair’s casket arrived a couple of hours before the funeral, escorted 30 miles down Highway 49 by nine police officers on motorcycles and several vehicles carrying family members.
A line outside the coliseum snaked down the sidewalk as early as 8 a.m., even with temperatures quickly rising into the low 90s on a humid day.
The hearse backed up next to the playing floor to deliver McNair’s silvery-gray casket. Police escorted McNair’s wife, Mechelle, and his mother, Lucille, into the stadium beforehand.
Bobby Hamilton, who played at Southern Miss and in the NFL with New England and Oakland, used to sleep on the floor of McNair’s oldest brother, Fred, when he played at Alcorn State. He also cheered on McNair during his career and recalled how McNair rallied Alcorn State by scoring two touchdowns with less than a minute left.
“It’s very painful. We know he was a warrior. … I can’t even say the word how this warrior went down,” an emotional Hamilton said.
The program included memories from McNair’s mother, his wife and sons, brothers, and nieces and nephews. Photos were also displayed of the quarterback who played 13 NFL seasons with Tennessee and Baltimore before retiring in 2008.
Earlier in the week, Steve and Mechelle’s minister, Bishop Joseph Walker III, said the verdict of McNair’s death being listed as homicide (with his young lover taking her own life after shooting Steve), gave the family a small measure of relief knowing some of the facts.
Bishop Walker said, “It doesn’t lighten the load or the burden that they are dealing with, but the news is helpful in providing some closure as to what happened. The grief process is right now acute.”
Mechelle’s main focus now, is her children (she is mom to two of Steve’s four sons) and not the circumstances of her husband’s death.
Walker added, “At the moment, Mechelle was grieving the loss of a spouse, a husband. I don’t think the circumstances were at the foremost of her mind.” The Bishop said of Steve, “He enjoyed life. He always had a smile. He was a dear, dear friend.”
Walker admits McNair’s death brings forward a tainted look at the football player, but he said he has never done an eulogy for someone that did not have flaws.
“Steve’s body of work, his commitment to this community and all that he has contributed to so many around the world, his work ethic on the field and his incredible heart off the field, I think overshadow any of the circumstances.”
Our hearts go out to Mechelle and the boys, who must now begin the process of moving forward without their loved one.
McNair’s Wife Mechelle “Very Upset”