As of this September, no one will ever don Nos. 9 or 27 for the Titans again.
Fitting, and long awaited, news out of Tennessee hit yesterday afternoon as the Tennessee Titans announced that they would be retiring the numbers of team legends Steve McNair and Eddie George.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) June 13, 2019
McNair jumped onto everyone’s radar as he destroyed the competition at Alcorn State with both his arm and legs. In his senior year, he generated almost 6,000 passing/rushing yards combined with 53 touchdowns. He was named an All-American and finished third in the Heisman voting behind Colorado’s Rashaan Salaam and Penn State’s Ki-Jana Carter. He also won the Walter Payton Award, given to the top player in 1-AA (now the Football Championship Subdivision) that year, and for his career he set records which still stand today: 14,496 yards passing and 16,283 total yards (both FCS records).
McNair was drafted by the then Houston Oilers with the third pick in the 1995 NFL Draft, becoming the highest selected African-American QB in history at the time. Two years later, when the team moved to Tennessee, McNair was named as the starting QB. In 1999, when the team officially became the Tennessee Titans, McNair returned to the starting role after missing five games due to an inflamed disc, and helped the team finish with a 13-3 record.
The Titans would go on to win the AFC crown, which included a victory in the “Music City Miracle” over the Bills, and moved on to face the St. Louis Rams in 2000 at Super Bowl XXXIV, which they lost on the last play of the game when Kevin Dyson came up inches short of the goal line on the last play of the game.
As a Titan, McNair threw for 27,141 yards and 156 TDs in 11 seasons. He also rushed for 3,439 yards and 36 TDs. He was also selected to the Pro Bowl three times. In his career, which spanned 13 season (his final two with Baltimore), McNair amassed 31,304 yards passing with 174 passing TDs and 3,500 yards rushing with 37 rushing TDs. He was also named as the League’s co-MVP, with Peyton Manning, in 2003, a year in which he threw for 3,215 yards and 24 TDs.
Eddie George was a four year player at Ohio State, dominating in his final two years for the Buckeyes.
In his senior season in 1995, George ran wild. rushing for 1,927 yards and 24 TDs. That year, as expected, he took home basically every award in college football- Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Consensus All-America, the Doak Walker Award, the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Player of the Year and the Heisman Trophy.
In his four years with the Buckeyes, George amassed 3,768 yards rushing and 44 rushing TDs. After a dominating 1995 season, the Houston Oilers selected him with the 14th pick in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft.
George played in the NFL for 9 years, his first eight with the Oilers/Titans, where he ran for 10,009 yards and 64 TDs. His final year he played with Dallas, running for 432 yards and 4 TDs. He was also a four time Pro Bowler and named first team All-Pro in 2000, a season in which he rushed for 1,509 yards and 14 TDs.
Fans will say it’s about time, especially as this July will mark the 10th anniversary of Steve McNair’s murder. But on September 15th, 2019, both men will be honored with one of the highest honors an athlete can receive, and that’s the knowledge that it’s the first time in NFL history that the numbers 9 and 27 will be retired and that no other player in team history will ever don numbers 9 or 27 again.