This has been an interesting two weeks in America as we learn about death and the impact of one's life. Whether it is sudden (Michael Jackson), long and suffering (Farrah Fawcett) or violent (Steve McNair), it all has an impact on everyone death leaves behind.
As fans or bystanders, we tend to try to figure out a person's legacy. The shame of America now is that it seems that legacies have to be easily labeled and categorized or else we struggle with how we are supposed to feel.
Since this is a sports blog, I'll concentrate on Steve McNair. He was a warrior of a player who is just a rung or two from being a Hall of Famer. He gave back to his community and was a respected man among his peers. We knew all of that before July 4th. After that day, we found out that he cheated on his wife, had a pad on the side and had this life we didn't know he had.
So what is McNair's legacy? It is all these things. It isn't just the hero that people want to remember and it isn't the salacious way he died. It is all of that. He will be remembered for being one of the best quarterbacks of his era. He will be remembered for his philanthropy. And he'll be remembered for being murdered at age 36. He's all those things.
Same as Michael Jackson. MJ was both the genius who created some of the greatest music and videos of our lifetime. He also was that "Wacko Jacko" character who lived a bizarre life. He's both as well as many other things. Look at your own life and see what makes you. If you died tomorrow, you will be remembered for your good deeds as well as your faults. And that's fine.
I go back to O.J. Simpson ... who obviously isn't even dead. Now, of course he will be known first and foremost as the "alleged but non-convicted" murderer of his Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. Some people will remember him as a Heisman trophy winning running back for USC. Others will remember his Hall of Fame career with the Buffalo Bills. Some will recall his acting in the Naked Gun movies or in Hertz commercials. He is all of those things and to suggest he wasn't a great football player because he's viewed as a murderer and now is a convicted felon isn't right. One may shadow the other, but it is okay to remember someone's entire life.
Yeah, the way McNair died to tarnish his legacy a bit. But that doesn't erase anything he did before it.