A Titan dies
See the career highs and lows of former NFL quarterback and Tennessee Titans legend Steve McNair, who was found dead on July 4.
7. Donovan McNabb becomes one of the faces of the NFL
Though McNair was the first black quarterback picked in the top five of the draft, Donovan McNabb became, as of 1999, the first to go in the top two.
And unlike so many of the other first-round quarterbacks from the much-hyped class of 1999 who turned out to be busts (Tim Couch and Akili Smith), McNabb has delivered.
Despite falling short of a Super Bowl win and without a league MVP trophy on his mantle, McNabb has become — and has remained — one of the short-list faces of the league.
With an Eagles team that is suddenly loaded at receiver, this could be McNabb's year both to win a title, and be named the most valuable player in the sport.
8. Mike Vick is the first overall pick
Earlier this decade, there was an even bigger star than McNabb. Though Mike Vick will forever be viewed differently after pleading guilty to felony charges relating to interstate gambling and dogfighting, there can be no dispute as to his ability, or his stardom.
Though McNabb has been a face of the league for several years; for one or two seasons, Vick was the face of the league.
Before that, Vick became the first black quarterback to be picked first in the draft, selected by Atlanta in 2001.
And his NFL book remains incomplete. Once he gets back into the league, a focused and motivated Vick possibly could soar to even greater heights than he did from 2001 through 2006.
9. Daunte Culpepper has one of the best seasons ever
In 2004, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning easily won the league MVP award, via 4,557 yards passing, a then-record 49 touchdowns, and a passer rating of 121.1.
Many assume Culpepper's numbers were fueled by the presence of Randy Moss (as if Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne didn't help Manning), but Moss missed several games with a bad hamstring. In his absence, Culpepper didn't miss a beat.
Though Culpepper's shining moment won't be remembered as one of the key moments to help make the NFL color blind when it comes to the quarterback position, it should be.
Because in that season Culpepper played as well as any quarterback not named Peyton Manning (or Tom Brady) ever has.
10. JaMarcus Russell chosen first for his arm, not his legs
Two years ago, the Raiders made JaMarcus Russell the second black quarterback to be selected with the first overall pick in the draft.
This time around, however, Russell didn't get the nod in whole or in part due to how he runs with the ball, but primarily because of how he throws the thing.
And that's arguably the clearest proof yet that a quarterback is a quarterback, regardless of any superficial factor unrelated to his ability to play the position.
Sure, Russell could end up being benched this year for Jeff Garcia, and he could end up being a full-blown draft bust.
But that doesn't mean the progress has been wasted; after all, plenty of white quarterbacks taken at the top of the draft have ended up being subpar pro performers, too.
PFT: Tom Brady, who turns 36 in August, says he has "never felt better throwing the football" and his confidence is peaking.
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