July 5, 2009
A friend and I have a casual game going in which we win $1 off the other person when someone dies on our list of about 85 celebrities each. So I tend to keep track of the deaths of well-known people on an international, a national, and even a local level. The past two weeks have not been good for well-known people. They say these things go in threes. Well, the past ten days have seen it go in sixes—Ed McMahon (okay, old and sick, but he led a good life), Farrah Fawcett (cancer sucks, no two ways about it), Michael Jackson (no comment), Karl Malden (damn! he almost made it to 100. What a big life!), Billy Mays (both Jackson and Mays were within a month of my age), and now Steve McNair. (No, I didn’t forget Fred Travalena, Alexis Arguello, and Jan Rubes; I’m just putting them on Tier B for this discussion.) Of this group, McNair’s death is the one that made me blurt out “Holy shit!” the loudest. Good thing I was at home at the time.
Born on a holiday (2/14/73), died on a holiday, McNair was well-liked and admired by Ravens fans and our community at large. After a string of flubbed quarterback experiments (Stoney Case, anyone?), it was great to see a real QB success in a Ravens uniform. McNair took this team far. It didn’t hurt that a few of his coworkers (Mason, Rolle) came over at the same time he did. The Ravens floundered in the years between their Super Bowl win and McNair’s arrival. I never met him in person, but he seemed like a genuinely nice guy and a great role model for his teammates.
What I as a libertarian would hate to see happen, yet I know it will, is for his death to be politicized as a referendum on handgun ownership and gun control. Tougher gun laws wouldn’t have stopped the shooter from getting hold of a gun. They never have.