Titans retire numbers of Eddie George, Steve McNair

Titans retire numbers of Eddie George, Steve McNair

The Tennessee Titans made official what has been unofficial for more than a decade, as they retired the running back Eddie George’s No. 27 jersey and the late quarterback Steve McNair’s No. 9 jersey.
A formal retirement of the jerseys will come at the Titans 2019 home opener against the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 15 at Nissan Stadium.
“Both of them are deserving for their significant contributions to our franchise,” Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said. “…Together Steve and Eddie led the team to new heights with 80 wins and four playoff appearances together, including an AFC Championship and Super Bowl appearance in 1999 along with the league’s best record in 2000.”
George, a Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State and a first-round pick by the Houston Oilers in 1996, was on hand after Wednesday’s mini-camp practice with members of his family. George, who spent his last NFL season with the Dallas Cowboys in 2004 after being released by the Titans, said the honor provides closure for him in a way.
“I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to the game of football about 15 years ago the way I wanted to, so this is a huge honor to have my jersey retired,” George said. “…I couldn’t imagine a day like this of having my jersey retired by itself. It has to be with Steve McNair’s. … It’s totally appropriate to have us go in together.”
George, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher with 10,009 yards for the team said a playoff win over Baltimore – one where he injured his shoulder but returned to finish the game – was a personal favorite moment of his career with the Titans.
“For me personally, I would have to say the Baltimore Ravens in 2003. It was a playoff game there, and it was for grown men only,” George said of his personal favorite moment. “It was a war and it had always been a war with them, and how resilient we all were and the willingness to go out there and fight for our reputation, for each other, for our city was big for us. That was a huge hurdle for us to get over, considering the history that we had with Baltimore at that particular time.”
George also reflected on 2003 when asked his memorable moment as a Titan of McNair’s career. McNair, the Oilers’ top pick in 1995, shared the league’s MVP trophy with Peyton Manning in 2003, as he threw for 3,215 yards with 24 touchdown passes.
“For Steve, the MVP season that year was huge. I was here when Steve didn’t have the confidence to throw a five-yard out. And I was here when they booed him at the stadium when he had the sternum (injury). I was there at his house when he was contemplating retirement because he didn’t enjoy the game anymore, and he didn’t have the confidence,” George said. “I was there in Pittsburgh when Neil O’Donnell got knocked out, and Steve had to come in and win the game in the fourth quarter. I saw all that.
“So in 2003 when it all came together for him, we stood in this room right here. Jeff Fisher got up in front of this room and announced who the MVP was. We all stood up in this room and cheered for 10 minutes for him, because we saw all he had to go through to get to that point, as an African American quarterback. He had to overcome obstacles and a lot of stereotypes to prove himself in this league. So it goes beyond the numbers. It goes beyond what you see on a stat sheet. You’d see him in the locker room, getting taped up, taking naps because he was tired and beat up, and he’d have to get up the next day and go and fight. That was our culture. That’s who we were.”
McNair’s family was unable to attend the press conference, but his widow, Mechelle, sent a statement to be read at the ceremony. McNair died in 2009.
“On behalf of my late husband Steve McNair, my family and I thank the Titans’ community and all his fans for the love and support you’ve shown us over the years. Steve would be truly honored to know that he was held in such high esteem by you. Retiring his jersey is a really big deal for us. It is a tangible reminder for me and the boys to know that No. 9 will forever be held in the highest regard in the Titans’ nation,” the statement, read by Titans play-by-play voice Mike Keith, said.

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