Reaction to the death of Steve McNair

Updated: July 5, 2009, 12:49 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Reaction from around the NFL to the shooting death of Steve McNair, former quarterback for the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens:

"We don't know the details, but it is a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to the families involved."

Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner


"We are saddened and shocked to hear the news of Steve McNair's passing today. He was one of the finest players to play for our organization and one of the most beloved players by our fans. He played with unquestioned heart and leadership and led us to places that we had never reached, including our only Super Bowl. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they deal with his untimely passing."

-- K.S. "Bud" Adams Jr., Tennessee Titans owner


"I am deeply saddened to learn of today's tragic news regarding the death of Steve McNair. He was a player who I admired a great deal. He was a tremendous  leader and an absolute warrior. He felt like it was his responsibility to lead by working hard every day, no matter what. I don't think there was a player who played with him or against him that didn't look up to him and respect him. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family, his friends and the many teammates who loved and admired him."

-- Floyd Reese, New England Patriots senior football adviser


"Steve was such a happy person. I even called him 'Smile.' He was always smiling and was always willing to lend a hand to anyone who needed it. I've known him for 13 years, and he was the most selfless, happiest and friendliest person I have known. His family and my family are close, and it is a blow to us all. It is a devastating day. Steve will always have a place in my heart. My family and I are hurting for his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.   "On the field, there isn't player that was as tough as him, especially at the quarterback position. What I have seen him play through on the field, and what he dealt with during the week to get ready for a game, I have never known a better teammate."

Derrick Mason, McNair's teammate with the Titans and Ravens


"Steve was the ultimate man, first of all. I played with Steve every year of my career, except for two, and got to know his family during that time. He was such a good family man. My prayers are with them at this tough time. I still can't even believe it. To lose such a good friend and a good man so soon doesn't make sense."

Samari Rolle, McNair's teammate with the Titans and Ravens


"This is so, so sad. We immediately think of his family, his boys. They are all in our thoughts and prayers. What we admired most about Steve when we played against him was his competitive spirit, and we were lucky enough to have that with us for two years. He is one of the best players in the NFL over the last 20 years. ... He was a great player, one of the toughest of competitors, and a tremendous teammate, who was a leader on the field and in the locker room, especially to the young players."

Ozzie Newsome, Ravens executive vice president and general manager


"Right now the only thing I can say is I feel for Mechelle and his family and I'm praying for them. We can talk all the football stories you want later but right now Mechelle and the kids are the most important thing."

Mike Heimerdinger, Titans offensive coordinator


"I will remember Steve's smile, his laugh, his ability to cook -- the man could cook -- and just the human being that he was. We had some great time together, wonderful personality. The football thing was one thing and I remember his playing days, but just the human being. He brought so much joy to so many people. He was a consummate pro and he was a gentleman. He was a great father. He raised his boys very well, they are well behaved. His legacy will live on. We say goodbye to Steve in the human form, but his spirit and his memory will always last forever. I'm here to celebrate my teammate, celebrate my friend, his life and support his family. We will see this through.

Eddie George, former Titans running back


"I have been talking about Steve McNair for years, because he was the face of our team. His worth and what he meant to us as players, it's almost immeasurable. Historically, he is recognized as Titans football and always will be. With this club and even the players you see today on the team, it all started with his group and it started with him. I can't even say enough about what he meant to that club and what he meant to the people in the stands. Everyone has their good years and bad years, but he was a warrior and a competitor. You wanted that kind of character and that kind of heart leading your team and he did that with style. He will be missed."

Brad Hopkins, former Titans tackle


"I always described Steve as indestructible and for me this is just a surreal kind of moment. I am very sad for Steve's family and this is a time for reflection and to appreciate who Steve was. It is really just a kick in the gut to everybody.

""He played the game the way it was supposed to be played, not for the glory, not for the press, not for the money, but because he was a true competitor and he wanted to prove a lot of people wrong. It was all about the love of the game and I think after his career he was a peace with where he was at with his family, his sons and what he was giving back to the community. It is a shame for this to happen."

Frank Wycheck, former Titans tight end


"I almost thought it was a joke, but then I kept getting text messages and phone calls. I saw Steve at Jeff Fisher's charity softball game just two weeks ago. We were talking about his restaurant opening up, his 17-year old son that's back home playing ball with the chance to play D-I. He talked about being retired and how he's adjusting. We talked about everything but football, really. He seemed very content. He was just happy being retired. To have his life taken away from him is bad for everybody in the community and back in Mississippi. As a player, he was pretty even keeled at quarterback and he wasn't going to be too high or too low. He didn't show a whole lot of emotion outside of playing ball. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family."

Kevin Dyson, former Titans wide receiver


"There was never any question about his heart, his toughness and his ability to play this game. He's one of my all-time favorite people that I've ever had the chance to be around. I think he was perfect for that organization at that particular time when all of a sudden a Hall of Famer had left the organization in Warren Moon and then Steve McNair comes in to fill those shoes. ... As I look back on him, one of the things I was most amazed about with him was his silent strength, the way he was able to lead people through example over words. I learned an awful lot watching him develop from a leadership role."

Gregg Williams, former Titans defensive coordinator


"Steve McNair was one of the greatest competitors I've ever played against. I'll always remember playing against him. Many of our defensive players always talked about what a huge challenge it was having to play against him. He and I had some great battles against each other."

Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts quarterback who shared the 2003 MVP award with McNair


"Coaching Steve was definitely the highlight of my coaching career. He's the type ballplayer who comes along once in lifetime."

Cardell Jones, who coached McNair at Alcorn State


"Steve was special and as tough and competitive of a guy that I have ever been around. As soon as we got him in Baltimore, he gave our team instant confidence and I was fortunate to be around him for two seasons. As great of a player as he was, it was more of an honor to know him as a person. My heart and prayers go out to his family."

Rex Ryan, Jets coach and Baltimore's defensive coordinator during McNair's two seasons with the Ravens


"I am saddened and shocked by the sudden passing of Steve McNair. During McNair's career in the SWAC and the NFL he was a fierce competitor. McNair's collegiate career [at Alcorn State] was one of the greatest in NCAA history and he will always be remembered for the tenacity and toughness that he displayed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."

Duer Sharp, SWAC commissioner


"I remember watching him in the Super Bowl and how well he did leading the team back in the second half after they fell behind. I've always been very impressed with him. He was just a phenomenal athlete, could have probably played many other positions. And when he got on the field, you could tell how well his teammates responded to him. That's a big part of being a leader, being a quarterback, when you bring the absolute best out of your teammates. Steve was that kind of quarterback. He didn't seem to talk a lot, but when he did speak on the field, he commanded respect because he wasn't a guy who told you how good he was, he went out and showed you!"

Dan Pastorini, former Houston Oilers quarterback


"Talk about toughness, McNair is at the top of the list. He played with pain, could take a hit and never ran from a hit.

"McNair was probably one of the most easy-going guys I've ever been around. He was real laidback and easy to coach. You admired McNair because he always tried to do what you wanted him to do."

Jim Fassel, former NFL coach, told the Washington Post


"The whole black quarterback thing, it's like a fraternity. Guys who played before you pass the torch down to younger guys. You always keep in contact with those guys who came before you. You try to keep in contact with them and learn as much as possible from them. Losing a guy like that from our fraternity ... it hurts because of how much you looked up to him. He's definitely one of the guys I looked up to. A lot of other guys looked up to him to. It's just a real hard day."

Jason Campbell, Washington Redskins quarterback as told to the Washington Post


"Steve was a very close friend. He was a tremendous competitor and a great guy to be around. Young players could learn a great deal from the way that he played the game. You hate to see a guy like Steve lose his life at such a young age. My thoughts and prayers are with the McNair family."

Jerry Gray, Washington Redskins secondary coach who was close to McNair in Tennessee, as told to the Washington Post


"I am in utter disbelief. Steve always came to work with a smile and a joy about him. I remember him as a dad that brought his kids to the facility and we all embraced them as our own. Not only will Steve's family miss him, but the entire NFL family has lost a brother. His death was far too early and my thoughts and prayers are with his family."

Bart Scott, Jets linebacker, McNair's teammate in Baltimore for two seasons.