A Deadly Affair

updated 07/20/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/20/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Tim McNair was grilling at home on the Fourth of July when he got the call: His younger brother Steve, 36, a former star quarterback in the NFL, had been found murdered in Nashville. "I broke down and cried," says Tim. "I wish someone would wake me up and say, 'This is all a big nightmare.'"

McNair, who was shot four times, was found in an apartment, along with his girlfriend of six months, 20-year-old Sahel Kazemi, who had one fatal bullet wound to the head. Pending further investigation, police declined to confirm McNair, who was married and the father of four sons, had been the victim of a murder-suicide. Authorities did disclose that Kazemi, who met McNair six months ago at a restaurant where she was a waitress, recently purchased the gun recovered at the scene. Kazemi's nephew Farzin Abdi told The Tennessean that Kazemi believed McNair was planning to leave his wife for her. "She was a sweet girl," said Abdi. "This is hard on us." But McNair's brother Tim insists McNair loved his wife, Mechelle, and there was no record that he had filed for divorce.

A 13-year veteran who played most of his career with the Tennessee Titans, McNair was widely admired for his off-field charity work, including bringing aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Tim hopes that his brother's accomplishments, rather than the scandal surrounding his death, will provide the most enduring legacy. "I want people to remember how he touched the community," he says. "Remember all the stuff he has done and all the accolades he has received. Just remember him for that."

From Our Partners