Over the years, the NFL has lost a number of stars to unfortunate gun-related deaths. Earl Thomas nearly became the latest casualty. Like Alex Smith, the Baltimore Ravens star came dangerously close to death. But unlike the Redskins quarterback, Thomas’ close encounter with mortality involved a lethal domestic dispute that included a gun. His recent situation triggered memories of a violent and tragic gun-related incident that shocked the NFL world. Fortunately for Earl Thomas, he didn’t suffer the same fate as Steve McNair.
Earl Thomas escaped with his life during a gun-involved dispute with his wife
Earl Thomas has built a reputation as one of the NFL’s best safeties since the Seattle Seahawks selected him with the 14th pick in the 2010 NFL draft. The ball-hawking defensive back has earned seven Pro Bowl selections and three first-team All-Pro honors while becoming the backbone of the Legion of Boom. He earned a Super Bowl ring with the Seahawks before joining the Ravens last season. But the 31-year-old came dangerously to losing not only his NFL career but his life in an infidelity-related domestic dispute with his wife, Nina Thomas.
According to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, Nina Thomas got arrested in April after pointing a loaded gun at her husband’s head during a heated argument. Nina Thomas reportedly used Snapchat to track her husband’s whereabouts and confronted Earl and his brother at a rental home, where they were in the company of two other women. The Ravens star managed to take the gun away from his wife, but when police arrived, Nina Thomas was chasing after her husband with a knife.
Earl Thomas took to Instagram Wednesday night to comment on the situation. Though he’s since deleted the post, here’s what he had to say, “It’s not really anybody’s business. It pisses me off that it got out, but it’s the world we live in today. But instead of talking about us, just keep us in y’all’s prayers. Stuff like this happens.”
Unlike Earl Thomas, Steve McNair wasn’t so lucky
While both Earl Thomas and his wife were lucky to escape unharmed, the dangerous encounter brought up memories of a former NFL star whose own gun-related domestic dispute ended in tragedy. In July 2009, Steve McNair was killed in a strange murder-suicide that involved his mistress, Sahel Kazemi. The 20-year-old reportedly shot the Titans legend four times before turning the gun on herself.
McNair’s stunning murder sent shockwaves through the NFL community. After all, he was one of the league’s most likable stars in the late ’90s and early 2000s. And in a split second, he was gone. His sudden, violent death showed how life can be taken away with the pull of a trigger.
Steve McNair’s death also had lasting effects. He left behind his wife, Mechelle McNair, and their two sons, Tyler and Trenton. Steve McNair also had two sons, Steve LaTreal McNair, Jr. and Steven O’Brian McNair, with other women prior to his marriage to Mechelle. Luckily for Earl Thomas and his wife, their three children don’t have to endure the same pain as Steve McNair’s kids.
Steve McNair left behind a lasting legacy
Death may represent the end of life, but it doesn’t extinguish a soul. And before his tragic murder, Steve McNair managed to leave a lasting legacy on both the NFL world and his community. Besides his prolific football career that included 31,304 passing yards, 91 victories and three Pro Bowl selections, the Mississippi native made a substantial impact off the field.
According to Erik Bacharach of The Tennessean, the Titans icon started the Steve McNair Foundation as a way to help youth charities. He routinely hosted free youth football camps beginning in 1999. McNair also dedicated his post-retirement life to his family.
After his retirement, McNair prioritized making time for his four sons. Former coach Nevil Barr remembers him showing up for “a pretty good amount” of football games at Oak Grove High just outside Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where McNair’s eldest son, Steve Jr., played wide receiver and defensive back.
Sadly, a gun ended Steve McNair’s life far too soon. His untimely death took away a father and a husband. Earl Thomas could have become the next casualty of gun-related violence. Fortunately, he didn’t suffer the same fate as Steve McNair, but he came awfully close.