NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Steve McNair’s 20-year-old girlfriend bought a gun a couple of days before she was found dead alongside the slain former NFL quarterback, her relative said Monday.
Farzin Abdi said police told him about the gun purchase by his aunt Sahel Kazemi, who was raised with him like a sister. Kazemi and McNair were found dead on Saturday in a Nashville condominium leased by the former Titans star.
Abdi said police told him they are almost sure Kazemi was the shooter, but the 27-year-old nephew said he doesn’t believe she would do it. Abdi didn’t know what day of the week the gun was purchased or what type of gun it was.
“There was no way she was depressed and wanting to do this,” he said. “She was so happy. … She just had it made, you know, (with) this guy taking care of everything.”
Nashville police didn’t immediately have a response to Abdi’s comments.
Abdi said Kazemi believed McNair was divorcing his wife and she was preparing to sell her furniture to move in with him.
Nashville courts had no record of a McNair divorce case, but a 14,000-square-foot home he owned in Nashville is on the market for $3 million.
Mechelle McNair has been described as very distraught about her husband’s death and has not commented on it.
Before their deaths, the public knew nothing of Kazemi’s relationship with McNair, a star who had earned the respect of his fellow NFL players for shaking off defenders and injuries and the love of fans amazed at how the quarterback kept showing up for work — and winning.
He endeared himself further with his charity work. Not just from the checks he handed out, but for throwing himself into the efforts, like he did when loading boxes onto tractor-trailers bound for Hurricane Katrina victims.
Publicly, McNair was a happily married man and proud father of four sons who split his time between his Mississippi farm and a home in Music City, where celebrities are cherished, not hassled.
His death, however, thrust a darker side of his private life into the spotlight.
“People have certain things that they do in life,” said McNair’s longtime friend Robert Gaddy, who called 911. “We don’t need to look on the situation at this time (but) on the fact we just lost a great member of society.”
Even McNair’s longtime agent said he didn’t know about the former quarterback’s relationship with Kazemi.
“As good as he was on the football field, that couldn’t touch the person,” agent Bus Cook said Sunday, still shaken by McNair’s death. “I mean it just couldn’t.”
Hints of a problem with alcohol surfaced in May 2003 when a Nashville police officer pulled McNair over on suspicion of drunk driving. Police said the quarterback’s blood alcohol content was 0.18 percent — well over Tennessee’s legal limit. He also was charged with having a 9mm weapon with him, but all the charges were later dropped.
McNair was charged with drunken driving in 2007 because he let his brother-in-law drive his pickup truck. Those charges were later dropped when the DUI charge against the brother-in-law was reduced to reckless driving.
And McNair could have been charged again Thursday night when the same officer who arrested him in 2003 stopped a 2007 Cadillac Escalade driven by Kazemi and registered to both her and McNair. Kazemi was arrested on a DUI charge, and he was allowed to leave in a taxi.
Police labeled his death a homicide Sunday, revealing McNair had been shot four times — twice in the head, twice in the chest — when found in a rented condominium he shared with a longtime friend, Wayne Neeley. Police found a semiautomatic pistol under Kazemi’s body.
But police spokesman Don Aaron said they were reviewing every possibility, interviewing friends of both and an ex-boyfriend before labeling Kazemi’s death.
On the football field, he simply was “Air McNair,” a winner.
McNair still holds the NCAA’s Football Championship Series (formerly Division I-AA) records for career yards passing (14,496) and total offense (16,823) from his days at tiny Alcorn State in Mississippi.
He played 13 NFL seasons, starting with the then-Houston Oilers, and led Tennessee to its famous last-second 2000 Super Bowl loss to the St. Louis Rams. He ended his career in Baltimore last season, after being traded away by the Titans after they drafted Vince Young as a replacement to the aching and expensive veteran.
McNair’s friends want the quarterback to be remembered for his generosity. He gave away turkeys and checks in Tennessee, toys in Baltimore and paid for three football camps himself this year. Cook talked to someone Saturday who saw McNair cleaning up the field after one camp at Southern Mississippi.
“That was Steve McNair. That’s who he is. And who he was,” an emotional Cook recalled.
A viewing will be held Thursday at a Nashville funeral home, followed by another viewing at Mount Zion Baptist Church with a memorial service Thursday night. A funeral service will be held Saturday in Mississippi, but final details were not set.
McNair met Kazemi at the Dave & Buster’s restaurant where she worked as a server and where his family ate often. The two began dating a few months ago in a relationship that included a vacation with parasailing. Photos posted on TMZ.com showed McNair gazing and smiling at the young Kazemi.
Associated Press writers Travis Loller, Lucas L. Johnson II and Joe Edwards contributed to this story.
Teresa M. Walker/The Associated Press