The public will have a chance to say goodbye to Steve McNair at a viewing and memorial later this week in Nashville, Tenn., as new details emerged Monday of the relationship between the married slain former NFL quarterback and the gal pal found shot dead at his side.
The gun found in the room where both bodies were discovered was owned by the other woman, who had recently been told by the pro-athlete he would divorce his wife, according to reports.
McNair, a father of four, was shot four times on the living room sofa of his rented Nashville condo. His girlfriend Sahel Kazemi was found dead nearby Saturday afternoon with a single gunshot wound to the head. Cops stopped short of ruling the slayings a murder-suicide but said they are not looking for suspects.
Kazemi bought the semiautomatic handgun found at the scene on Saturday, less than two days before the killings, cops said today.
The 36-year-old former pro athlete told his 20-year-old gal pal that his marriage to wife Mechelle "was going to be finished, the whole divorce was going to be done, two weeks from yesterday," the mistress' sister, Sepideh Salmani told The Tennessean newspaper.
Yet, there is no record of a pending divorce, the paper reported.
Cops were mum on whether Kazemi was the shooter but did rule McNair's death a homicide. Authorities have not yet reached a conclusion on the death of Kazemi. McNair was once busted for carrying a weapon. Those charges were dropped.
The pair met at a Dave & Buster's restaurant and had been dating for months, cops said, but sources said McNair's wife had no idea that her hubby had been cheating. Mechelle is "very distraught," cops said yesterday.
"She's blindsided by this," a source told the New York Daily News. "She's crushed. Her whole world is shattered."
Mom Lucille McNair said she was heartbroken over the loss of her son and that she didn't even want to know who the killer was.
"I don't want to know," she told The Tennessean from her Mount Olive, Miss., home. "Because the way I see it, it was the devil's work and not God's work. I'm not mad.
"I'm just grieving over my son," she said. "He was a great son [and] he was special. I just have a hard time talking about it. I get teary-eyed."
McNair's former coach of 11 years, Jeff Fisher, praised the athlete as one of the "greatest competitors of all time on the field."
"The Steve McNair that I knew would want me to say, 'I'm sorry. I'm not perfect. We all make decisions sometimes that are not in the best interests. Please forgive me,'" Fisher said at a press conference on Monday. "The Steve McNair that I knew would want me to say, 'Celebrate my life for what I did on the field, for what I did in the community, the kind of teammate that I was.' That's what the Steve that I knew would want me to say."
Meanwhile, as police investigated the slayings, members of Kazemi's relatives revealed more details of McNair's relationship with the dead woman.
Kazemi was a 19-year-old waitress who had just gotten out of a long-term relationship when she met and became enamored of McNair in January. The pair dated for about six months, The Tenneseean reported.
Born in Iran, Kazemi fled religious persecution for her Baha'i faith in 2000, her nephew Farzin Abdi told The Associated Press. They spent 2½ years in Turkey before moving to Florida. Later Kazemi dropped out of high school and, at age 17, moved with a boyfriend to Nashville, where she sometimes worked two or three jobs to support herself.
Earlier this year, Kazemi and McNair took trips to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Key West, Fla., and Mississippi, Abdi said. McNair had been seen at Kazemi's Nashville apartment two to three times a week, so often neighbors wondered whether he had moved in.
"They were together all the time unless he was taking his kids on vacation," Abdi said.
McNair bought the stunning brunette a black Cadillac Escalade for her 20th birthday in May and even met her family for a sushi dinner to celebrate, according to The Tenneseean .
"We met him because I don't watch football and I didn't know who he was," Abdi, the nephew, told the paper. "We went out to dinner and she was so happy and was having fun. Were we happy about the relationship? No."
The couple talked about marriage, Abdi said.
"I don't know if he had filed for divorce but I thought it would happen," he said.
Fred McNair, Steve McNair's oldest brother, said some family members likely will travel to Nashville on Monday to consult with Mechelle.
"It's still kind of hard to believe," Fred McNair said. "He was the greatest person in the world. He gave back to the community. He loved kids and he wanted to be a role model to kids."
McNair, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, led the Titans to the 2000 Super Bowl, which they lost 23-16 to the St. Louis Rams. He was co-MVP of the NFL with Colts quarterback Peyton Manning in 2003. He also played for the Baltimore Ravens before retiring in April 2008.
His most notable moment came in the 2000 Super Bowl. With the Titans trailing by seven, he led the team 87 yards in the final minute and 48 seconds, only to come up a yard short of a touchdown. Kevin Dyson caught his 9-yard pass, but was tackled at the 1-yard line by the Rams' Mike Jones.
McNair accounted for all of Tennessee's yards in that drive, throwing for 48 yards and rushing for 14. The rest of the yardage came on penalties against the Rams. Before that, he brought the Titans back from a 16-0 deficit to tie the game.
McNair was the third overall draft pick in 1995 by the Houston Oilers, who eventually became the Titans. He finished his career with 31,304 yards passing and 174 touchdowns. McNair's rugged style led to numerous injuries and aches. He played with pain for several years, and the injuries ultimately forced him to retire.
The public will have a couple of opportunities to attend viewings in Nashville on Thursday and a memorial will be held later that evening at Mount Zion Baptist Church.
A second memorial service will be held Saturday at Reed Green Coliseum in in Hattiesburg, Miss., on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. McNair, 36, was from Mount Olive, a small town nearby.
Fans are asked to make donations to the Steve McNair Foundation.