Steve McNair had plenty of hype to live up to at the beginning of his professional career, and rose to the occasion, not only proving himself but also paving the way for black franchise quarterbacks from Donovan McNabb to Vince Young, writes Tom Curran for MSNBC. He had both grit and style, efficiency and explosiveness, and could scramble or pass from the pocket.
Such versatility might have seemed surprising in a player from a Division I-AA team, but McNair's "jaw-dropping athleticism" was something that couldn't be taught. This man would play through injuries, and even at the end of his career, McNair ignored his battered body and pushed the Ravens to a 13-3 record in 2006.
(Read more Steve McNair stories.)