NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair will miss the final three games of the season and undergo surgery to strengthen the bruised
sternum that has plagued him most of the year.
Coach Jeff Fisher said they reached the decision Friday morning.
Fisher said a chief consideration is that McNair, the NFL's co-MVP last season, will need the surgery even if he never plays football again to fix the
damage caused by three injuries to his sternum.
"Basically, Steve does not have a solid bony surface throughout the length of his sternum," Fisher said.
"There's an area in there that's cartilage. It's not normal. He was born that way. And because of this area that's simply cartilage, when Steve
suffered the first injury back in 2000, the sternum itself moved, creating a lot of pain and a lot of discomfort."
McNair had a bye week to recover after initially bruising his sternum in September 2000 and did not start the next game. But he came off the bench and
pulled out a victory at Pittsburgh and didn't have pain from the injury after that season.
McNair, who has missed five starts this season for the struggling Titans (4-9), talked to reporters Friday for the first time since Dec. 1, when he
refused to back off comments that he would consider quitting football in the offseason.
"It's always critical when you've got to go through surgery during the course of the season and work through it during the offseason," McNair said.
But McNair, who turns 32 on Feb. 14, concluded it was better to have the surgery before the end of the season.
"It's something (the injuries) I've been dealing with for 10 years, I think I can deal with this one," McNair said.
McNair said he wants "to be able to come back and play with this team again."
Fisher said the surgery, which will take place before the season ends Jan. 2, will take bone from McNair's hip and graft it to his sternum to
encourage bone growth there.
Doctors expect McNair to recover fairly quickly, and Fisher said he could be lifting weights and doing conditioning work about six weeks after the
McNair bruised his sternum on Sept. 26, an injury that put him in the hospital for two nights. He has aggravated the injury twice, causing him to miss
five games and parts of two others this season.