(for Steve McNair)
By Ryan Clark
When you a player from the South,
they’s only one way to die.
‘Cause when you deal with the Devil –
he’ll call yo ass when you least expect.
Ain’t no escapin. No place to run.
Even when you run
like a dog with his tail on fire.
Even when you hit
like an old chrome Buick.
The boy played, see. Not like Blind Willie.
Not like Robert Johnson.
But Stevie played.
Ya know they all come from the same dirt,
where you don’t go to the crossroads
when the moon is high,
where you don’t eat a gal’s spaghetti
‘til you knowed her for a while.
They all came from Mississippi
with close to nothin’ in they pockets.
But they was geniuses, heroes
the way they played. Stevie
took the field – he was a tough old QB.
And he won all those NFL Good Guy awards.
And he saved those people after Katrina.
See, Stevie didn’t play no guitar.
Stevie was a football God. But it’s all
the same ‘round here. Violence?
‘Stead of pounding on a guitar, he
pounded linemen. The crowd?
They loved him like a son, and they cheered
his name and wrote ‘bout him in the papers.
Even his jersey was the perfect color – blue.
Stevie had the blues.
But he was doomed –
he couldn’t help it none.
Like all those players before him,
Stevie had his demons. Show ‘nuff.
He loved the women. Loved his wife,
but loved his female followers
too – and kept it quiet. That is, ‘til –
‘Til the Devil came to collect.
It was the waitress.
She got attached. She wanted a future.
And that’s trouble for a married man.
I wonder if he knowed how it would end?
I wonder if he ever dreamed of layin’
on a couch, soaked in his own blood,
as that waitress stood over top of em, just
‘fore she turned the gun on herself?
He shoulda known. He had to.
‘Cause that’s what happens to the
Mississippi Blues Men. Sell yo soul,
take your glory – but then, you must,
pay the Piper. And by then it don’t matter
how many touchdowns you throwed, or
how many games you won.
Ain’t nothin’ you can say then
to change the Devil’s mind.