August 06, 2009

The Tennessee Titans will honor slain former quarterback Steve McNair by wearing a No. 9 decal on their helmets this season, starting with this weekend's Hall of Fame Game against the Buffalo Bills.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Thursday the league found it appropriate to approve the team's 1 1/4-inch decal in memory of McNair, who was killed July 4. McNair played 11 seasons with the Titans and led the team to its only Super Bowl appearance.

McCarthy said Titans coaches and sideline personnel also will have the option to wear a No. 9 lapel pin.

The Titans had been discussing ways to remember and honor McNair, the winningest quarterback in the franchise's history at 81-59. Only Hall of Famer Warren Moon threw for more yards for the team than McNair. He was also co-MVP of the NFL in 2003, only the second player to be so honored in team history.

"We felt this was an appropriate way to honor Steve McNair and the contributions he made to our franchise,'' Titans owner Bud Adams said in a statement. "We have other things planned for our fans to honor him and the McNair family.''

Coach Jeff Fisher said the Titans still are considering a couple more things to honor McNair in connection with his family. He declined to discuss specifics since nothing else has been decided.

"It's great timing to open the season with the ability to pay our respects to Steve and the family,'' Fisher said.

McNair retired in April 2008 after 13 NFL seasons, the last two with Baltimore.

Linebacker Keith Bulluck said he was glad to hear the news because he had planned to do something on his own if need be to remember McNair, a teammate for six seasons. A newspaper clipping of McNair holding up his MVP trophy is taped inside Bulluck's locker.

"It's very much well-deserved for the person Mac was in this community, who he was on this team, what he meant to this organization and the players that he's influenced big and small over the years,'' Bulluck said.

Vince Young, who was mentored by McNair and spoke at the quarterback's funeral, said the decal shows how much the organization loved McNair and how much he respected him personally.

"It's going to be big,'' Young said.

The former quarterback was inducted into the Titans' Ring of Honor in October 2008, and fans have been running an online petition drive asking the team to retire his No. 9 jersey.

McNair, 36, was shot to death in a Nashville condominium by his girlfriend, Sahel Kazemi, who then killed herself.

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