Of all the athletes that would meet with a violent end, Steve McNair was the most unlikely. He was 2005 NFL Man of the Year, a respected family man and one of the most beloved players ever to have had a pro career. Even so, he met with a violent and premature death. We all morn the loss of McNair.
At this point, it is not totally clear exactly what happened. But it should raise a red flag to every athlete and every parent of an athlete. The lesson is this—your friends can be more dangerous than your enemies. They are closer to you more often than your enemies and will use your feelings for them to take advantage of you.
Every year the NFL holds a symposium for the drafted rookie players. Both current and retired players tell the newbies about the dangers that face all professional athletes. Some friends just want tickets—OK probably a lot of tickets to games. But other friends will tell athletes that they should never forget where they came from.
Part of remembering where they came from is the habits that their friends have. Those habits may have cost Pacman Jones and Donte Stallworth their careers. It was a cousin of Mike Vick that put him behind bars for 2 years and probably cost him his career.
Most young men have no fear. They never consider the dangers to which their friends subject them. Athletes have even a bigger ego and feeling of indestructibility. From the time of little league, they have been told they are special. They collect hangers on that want to stand in the light that is reflected off of a star athlete. They also want a chance at the money that he can earn.
If you are the parent of a young athlete use the tragedy of Steve McNair to explain the dangers of friends. The future you save will be that of your son or daughter.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .