Former Alcorn State All-American quarterback Steve McNair has been selected as a finalist for the 2019 College Football Hall of Fame. The mercurial Mt Olive, Ms native posted unworldly career numbers and would become only the second Heisman Trophy candidate from a Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU) that played the quarterback position in 1994 (Doug Williams of Grambling was the first in 1977). McNair raised the bar while at Alcorn, a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, which participates in the Football Championship Series or 1-AA. His 16,823 career yards and 14,496 passing yards are still records that have now stood for nearly a quarter of a century.
With that said, I had the privilege of broadcasting football in the conference all of Steve’s four years during his stay “on the Reservation” as it was known by SWAC foes. I can’t remember a player entering the league with as much advance hype as McNair prior to his taking his first snap. But upon my initial witnessing of this ultra-talented and ultra-athletic signal caller, I was quickly convinced why this type of reputation was an accurate fit. Sure his brother Fred was tabbed as “Air McNair” and it was only natural that the “Air II McNair” moniker was attached to Steve. Covering sports on a multitude of levels for several decades, one tends to readily identify special athletes when they cross the path. Whatever that “it factor” is supposed to be, then McNair possessed that element in abundance. Some attempted to counter with the competition level or lack thereof. But only a couple of decades prior, Jackson State (SWAC member) provided the NFL with the 4th pick and the 6th pick of the 1975 NFL Draft (Walter Payton and Robert Brazile) from the same team and both are Pro Football Hall of Famers.
Placing the labels to the side, special is special. This guy was not only a prolific passer, but one of the most elusive athletes I’ve seen on the gridiron (regardless of position). Steve was one of the most electrifying runners in college football as well when coverage broke down. I could easily go on, but the College Football Hall of Fame would be elevated by adding one of their brightest stars to their prestigious hall.
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