Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Caught Dead

This is about a football player, but it's not a sports story.

This is a husband cheats on his wife thing, but with a twist. A gruesome, ugly twist.

Steve McNair is the football player, though he hasn't played in a couple of seasons. But once you've played pro sports, that's pretty much what you're known as, forever and ever.

So McNair's the football player, he's 36, and he's running around with a 20-year-old girl. Oh, and McNair's married with four small children.

McNair's wife knows nothing of the dalliance, or else, well, it wouldn't be an affair now, would it? Or, it would be a very bad affair. The "good" affairs never get detected.

Most wives find out about the other woman through indirect methods. By happenstance.

A crumpled up phone number in hubby's suit jacket. The light scent of a perfume, not the wife's. A naughty e-mail or two.

Here's how Mechelle McNair found out her husband was cheating on her: when the police told her he was dead.

Steve McNair was shot multiple times, including twice in the head, and his 20-year-old "friend", Sahel Kazemi, lie dead next to him with a single gunshot wound to the head. A gun was found near Kazemi's body.

So that was the first Mechelle McNair had heard of Kazemi, much less that Kazemi was in the midst of a four-month relationship with the former star quarterback.

Turns out that Mechelle was in a love triangle, and didn't even know it. And now she's the only one left standing.

Explain that one to the kids.

I have no idea which emotion becomes the dominant one in a situation like this for McNair's widow. It's like drinking a cocktail with multiple types of liquor and being asked which one stands out.

You take a gulp and you think you might taste some rum, then perhaps some tequila...maybe a little whiskey?

All while you wince as it goes down.

Steve McNair was, by all accounts, one of the NFL's good guys. He had started a charitable foundation and when he played he had a pretty clean record of good behavior. He was one of the players that kids looked up to, for all the right reasons.

But now, in an act that no doubt took just seconds to occur, everything that we knew about Steve McNair has changed -- forever.

And that's just us. Can you imagine what Mechelle McNair struggles with now?


The McNairs: Steve and Mechelle in 2001, after the QB signed a contract extension with the Tennessee Titans


Losing a husband and the father of your four kids, at age 36, is a bad enough burden to bear, without adding to it the humiliation and anger and everything else that goes with finding out you've been played.

That, and it's all so public, to boot.

If it's any consolation to her -- and I doubt that it is right now -- Mechelle McNair is, by far, an overwhelmingly sympathetic figure in this tragedy, along with her children. She'll come out smelling like a rose in the court of public opinion.

Whoopee.

She's widowed now, with four kids to raise, and with so many unanswered questions -- questions that will never, likely, provide any real closure. For the two principles are dead -- Steve McNair and the other woman.

From a criminal investigation standpoint, there are unanswered questions, of course.

What led to the ghastly incident? What was Kazemi's motive, if indeed she pulled the trigger? How did something culminate in a double killing?

The questions Mechelle McNair has go way beyond that, of course.

How did I not know? Who WAS this girl? Where did Steve meet her? Did he love her? How could he do this to me, and the kids? Was it something I did? I said?

And, the cruelest question.

What the hell do I do NOW?

Yes, Mechelle McNair will get tons of support from her friends and family. They'll help her immensely. So at least there's that.

But there's also this.

Kazemi’s family told reporters that the woman was so confident McNair was divorcing his wife of 12 years that she was preparing to sell her furniture and move in with the former quarterback.

Maybe that wasn't the case, and Kazemi snapped. Maybe she decided that if McNair wasn't going to divorce his wife and be with her, then he'd be with no one. And neither would she.

Maybe.

This is still the early throes of an investigation, so few facts can be confirmed at this point.

Those few are that Steve McNair is dead, so is a 20-year-old girl that he cheated with on his wife, and a woman is now widowed with four children -- humiliated and grief-stricken.

The scary thing is, the more Mechelle McNair finds out about what the hell was going on, the less likely she is to have ever wanted to know in the first place.

But she must know. No one said the path to closure was a walk in the park.

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