McNair was a busy guy... so many girlfriends so little time.
Even as fans filed into the Tennessee Titans' LP Field Thursday, staring raptly at rolling video of Steve McNair's on-field heroics and writing condolence messages in large albums, a woman in Minnesota grieved alone, in her own way.
The former business manager of a Minneapolis strip club told the Daily News that McNair had been a frequent visitor to the club and had an intimate and extramarital relationship with an exotic dancer for about six years.
"She liked money and athletes," the former business manager said on condition of anonymity. "She went out with athletes before. She was one of those girls who said, 'You're married? You have kids? So what?' Lets have fun.
"I can tell you that she was very upset when she learned that he had died," the former business manager added.
While the pretty brunette mourned privately, Titans fans turned out Thursday to pay their last respects to the quarterback who became the face of the team after the Houston Oilers relocated to Nashville in 1997. Large crowds jammed into the Lewis & Wright Funeral Home in working-class north Nashville early Thursday morning to get a glimpse of the closed silver casket that contained his body.
Thousands more - many wearing blue Tennessee jerseys sporting McNair's No.9 - attended the tribute at the Titans' stadium and a visitation and service at Mount Zion Baptist Church in White Creek, Tenn., remembering McNair for his football prowess and for his years of local charity work.
"The whole community is in mourning for Steve," Tennessee State Rep. Brenda Gilmour said earlier this week. Gilmour, who represents north Nashville, said McNair had recently opened a breakfast-and-lunch restaurant in her district to provide jobs and inexpensive meals to her constituents.
"He had the kind of personality that made you feel like a member of the family as soon as you met him," she said.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher joined McNair's former teammates, including Al Del Greco and Jevon Kearse, at the funeral home early Thursday to say goodbye to McNair and spend a moment with his wife, Mechelle, and their four children.
"He wasn't an overly vocal leader, but you knew every single play and every single snap that he was going to be there to help us win," Del Greco remembered.
Nashville police said on Wednesday that McNair was fatally shot four times on the Fourth of July by his 20-year-old lover as he slept on a sofa in the downtown Nashville condo he rented with a friend. The woman, Sahel Kazemi, then turned the 9-mm semiautomatic she had purchased two days earlier on herself.
Kazemi had been pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence two days earlier, with McNair and the manager of McNair's restaurant in the passenger seats of the Cadillac Escalade the retired NFL star had helped her purchase. McNair, who declined to speak to Kazemi while the officer conducted his investigation, later bailed his girlfriend out of jail.
Kazemi had told her family that McNair planned to divorce his wife and live with her, but the DUI arrest incident seemed to solidify Kazemi's fear that the relationship - and her hold on the wealth and glamour that came with dating a football star - was falling apart.
According to police, Kazemi also believed McNair had been seeing yet another woman who wasn't his wife, and had followed the woman out of McNair's condo, although she did not confront her.
If that weren't enough, Kazemi was also apparently having money troubles. Last Thursday at about 5 p.m., several hours after the arrest, Kazemi placed an ad on Craig's List to sell her furniture - including the same living-room sofa on which Kazemi and McNair would die. Shortly after placing the ad, Kazemi met a man interested in buying another car she owned in the parking lot of Dave & Buster's, the restaurant where she worked. The man didn't buy the car, a Kia, but he did sell Sahemi the gun she used to shoot McNair and herself for $100.
Kazemi was born in Iran but moved to Turkey and then Jacksonville, Fla., when she was a little girl, after her mother's death. She was 16 when she moved to Nashville with then-boyfriend Keith Norfleet.
Friends describe her as a fun and vivacious young woman, but by last Friday, Kazemi, known as Jenny to friends, was telling a friend that her life was "a ball of ---" and "I should just end it."
McNair's death pulled back the veil on the secret lives of athletes, the ballplayers who are faithful husbands and fathers in public but have lovers and clandestine apartments on the side. But unlike Kazemi, the exotic dancer who dated McNair for six years knew how the game was played.
She had no illusions that he would leave his wife for her. "They had an understanding," the former business manager said.
"He was sitting in the VIP section of the club when she first met him. She made a beeline for him. She knew who he was. There are girls like that in clubs all over the country. They know sports and they know athletes," he added.
"He would give her money for her rent or her car payments, or he would pay for plane tickets," the former business manager said. "She'd spend weekends with him. He would call and say, 'I'm going to be in Baltimore or Chicago or wherever. Why don't you meet me there?' Everything was always first-class."
The dancer may have first been attracted to McNair's fame and wealth, but she soon became fond of his big smile and warm personality.
"He had a great personality," the ex-business manager said. "Very nice guy. Very respectful, whether you were a millionaire or a dancer or a bartender."
The dancer knew she wasn't McNair's only lover, but that doesn't make the heartbreak that came from his death any less real. "She really cared for him," the former business manager said. "He was not perfect, but he was a good guy."