McNair remembered as great, classy

Published 12:30 am Friday, April 18, 2008

NATCHEZ — When former Alcorn State great Steve McNair announced his retirement from the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens Thursday, it brought back a lot of great memories for Alcorn fans around the area.

McNair quarterbacked the Braves from 1991-1994, averaging an astounding 527.2 total yards per game as a senior. He finished in third place in the Heisman Trophy balloting that season and was drafted in the first round by the Houston Oilers, which later became the Tennessee Titans, which he led to Super Bowl XXXIV.

However, there was one memory that stood out to Alcorn fan Robert Plummer above any others from McNair’s time in the yard.

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“The thing I remember the most is that we would go up to Jackson and whoop Jackson State’s butt every year he was at quarterback,” Plummer said. “He was just a great athlete.”

Plummer said McNair was important for both Alcorn State and the SWAC in showing that they can produce great athletes.

“The SWAC has produced the best wide receiver in Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State) and the best running back in Walter Payton (Jackson State). Now we can say we produced one of the best quarterbacks,” Plummer said.

Current Alcorn State football coach Ernest Jones remembers McNair’s time wearing the purple and gold well. He was a wide receiver on McNair’s team and together they won Alcorn’s most recent SWAC championship in 1994.

“You had better have your gloves on or tape on your fingers when he was throwing you a ball because he sure could throw that thing,” Jones said. “We had the ‘Spinks Jinx’ at Jack Spinks Stadium with him at quarterback. We never lost a game at home. He had this calm demeanor and made us felt like we knew we were going to win no matter what the situation was.”

Jones said McNair was not only a great NFL quarterback but also a classy individual who brought pride to his alma mater and native state.

“He was first class in everything he did,” Jones said. “He wasn’t a guy who did a lot of bragging. You never would have known he was an NFL quarterback. He was just a good old country boy from Mount Olive, Mississippi.”