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Steve McNair's death has forced many of us to consider his body of work and ponder how he will be remembered. Many have varying opinions today, some of which will change as the tragedy soaks in. Time also has a way of softening our views. This is after all a forgiving society.
While reminiscing I thought of McNair's career as a Titan. He was always a formidable foe whose style I would describe as relentless. Just when you thought he was wrapped up, he'd escape and make a play downfield with a throw on the run or he might sustain drives with his feet. You could never count out a Steve McNair led team until the clock read 0:00.
Ravens fans won't want to hear this but the 2000 Titans were a better team than the 2000 Ravens. Statistically their defense was ranked No. 1 and clearly their offense was more potent than the Ravens. Let's not forget that the Billick/Cavanaugh offense went 21 consecutive quarters without scoring a touchdown.
Had it not been for the inadequacies of Al Del Greco the Titans, not the Ravens would have the Super Bowl XXXV Trophy on their mantel.
How might that have altered McNair's legacy?
Could Del Greco's failures keep McNair out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
Clearly this all presents some interesting topics for friendly pub debates.
While re-living those moments from the 2000 season in my mind, thinking of Al Del Greco and the Ravens touchdown drought, I couldn't help but think of Matt Stover. How would that championship season have played out without the dependability of No. 3?
Apparently the Ravens are ready and willing to usher in the post-Stover era.
But are they able?
What if the Joe Flacco improves, the offensive line solidifies, the receiving corps proves to be above average and the defense holds serve? Might that be the difference between an AFC Championship Game appearance and a Super Bowl appearance?
It could be.
But what if neither of the Stover replacement candidates, Steve Hauschka or Graham Gano connects consistently under pressure? Is that kickoff/long kicker specialist roster spot really that critical?
The Ravens personnel department has done a fine job of finding players with multiple talents who can contribute in more ways than one. Gone are the players like Clarence Moore and B.J. Sams. Soon Yamon Figurs will be gone for the same reason.
Can't the Ravens justify Hauschka or Gano AND Stover?
If there is 0:03 left in a playoff game and the Ravens are down by 2 with the ball on the opponent's 22 yard line, who would you prefer to make that 39 yard field goal attempt, new guy or Stover?
Let's just hope that if the Ravens prove to be the AFC's best team in 2009, that a kicker's failures don't keep them out of the Super Bowl.
Just ask the fans in Tennessee how they feel.
Just ask the Hall of Fame voters who will one day determine Steve McNair's place in NFL history.