The Maryland football team announced the ways it will honor fallen teammate Jordan McNair throughout the upcoming season — and beyond.
With the entire team in attendance, two of McNair’s mates on the offensive line, Ellis McKennie and Johnny Jordan, detailed the plans the team came up with to memorialize McNair, who died in June two weeks after collapsing during an offseason conditioning workout.
‘We plan to have his legacy live on forever’
McKennie, who played with McNair at McDonogh School, announced that the team will wear helmet stickers with No. 79, McNair’s number, for the entirety of the season. There will also be a moment of silence held for McNair before two early-season games: the Sept. 1 opener vs. Texas at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, and the Sept. 15 home opener vs. Temple in College Park. Additionally, one Maryland football student-athlete will be awarded a scholarship in McNair’s name each year.
“The moment that we stop saying his name, the moment that we begin to forget, his legacy will begin to fade,” McKennie said. “We plan to have his legacy live on forever. We plan to never forget. This season, Jordan’s spirit will be living within each and every one of us. Every play we make, every snap we take will be in Jordan’s honor. He would do anything for his teammates. He fought until his very last breath for his teammates, and now we would like to honor him.”
Johnny Jordan, McNair’s roommate, described McNair as a “gentle giant” before adding that nobody will wear McNair’s No. 79 through the 2020 season, what would have been his senior campaign. When the Terps’ seniors are honored that year on senior day, McNair will be included.
McNair’s locker in the Gossett football building will be encased in glass and later moved to Cole Field House when the renovations are complete. At Cole Field House, the offensive line meeting room will be named after McNair.
“Jordan was one of the best friends, teammates and roommates anyone could ever ask for. He was a gentle giant and we as a team will continue to carry on his legacy through this season and far beyond,” Johnny Jordan said.
McNair died June 13, two weeks after collapsing
McNair collapsed during a May 29 conditioning workout and later died June 13. He was 19 years old.
In the time since McNair’s death, Maryland has been alleged to have a “toxic” football culture under head coach D.J. Durkin. That culture was detailed in an extensive ESPN article that included coaches, notably strength coach Rick Court (who led the fatal workout), allegedly intimidating and verbally abusing players.
McNair, just 19, struggled to stand up while trying to complete sprints, and according to ESPN, Maryland head athletic trainer Wes Robinson yelled, “Drag his ass across the field!” An attorney for the McNair family said Jordan suffered a seizure and that university training staff did not call 911 for assistance for nearly an hour. When McNair arrived at the hospital, he had a body temperature of 106 degrees.
In a news conference last week, Maryland president Wallace Loh and athletic director Damon Evans said that the university “accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes” the training staff made. An investigation into the circumstances around McNair’s death is ongoing, and an additional investigation into the football program was announced by Loh.
Durkin, Robinson and director of athletic training Steve Nordwall have been placed on administrative leave. Court resigned. McNair’s parents have called for Durkin to be fired.
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