Nashville, Tenn. — Former NFL star Steve McNair was shot dead in his sleep last week by a 20-year-old girlfriend distraught about mounting financial problems and her belief that he was seeing someone else, police said Wednesday.
Sahel Kazemi “was spinning out of control” when she shot McNair four times as he dozed on a sofa early Saturday, then turned the gun on herself, Police Chief Ronal Serpas said.
Interviews with friends revealed that she was making payments on two cars, her rent was doubling and she suspected the married McNair was having a second affair with another young woman.
She told a friend on Friday that “My life is a ball of s--- and I should end it,” Serpas said.
Police earlier had labeled McNair’s death a homicide, but waited for further tests and the revelations about Kazemi’s personal problems before concluding that she pulled the trigger of a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol in a condominium McNair rented with a friend.
McNair, 36, a quarterback for the Tennessee Titans most of his career, met Kazemi six months ago at a sports cafe where she was a waitress and his family often ate. She seemed happy and eager to build a life with him, but something went wrong.
“We do know that she was clearly sending a message during the last five to seven days of her life that things were going bad quickly,” Serpas said, though there was no indication she told anyone she planned to harm McNair.
Serpas said detectives learned that Kazemi recently found out about another young woman she thought McNair was romantically involved with and had even followed that woman home, though she did not confront her.
Serpas said police believe McNair was asleep when he was killed because there were no defensive wounds. After shooting McNair in the head, Kazemi apparently shot him twice in the chest before shooting him again in the head.
Before shooting herself, she sat next to his body and “tried to stage it so she would fall in his lap,” Serpas said. She did, but her body slid to the floor and ended up at McNair’s feet. The gun was found underneath her.
Mountain West agrees
Salt Lake City — After taking its fight to change the Bowl Championships Series to Congress, the Mountain West Conference is reluctantly agreeing to a BCS television deal.
That doesn’t mean the conference is finished pushing for a playoff.
University of Utah president Michael Young issued a statement on behalf of the conference Wednesday, one day after he testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee.
In the statement, Young said the Mountain West felt it had no choice but to sign the agreement with ESPN, which runs through the 2013 season. The Mountain West champion still would not automatically qualify for a spot in one of the top-tier bowls.
Vick could play in minors
Washington — Michael Vick has a place in minor-league football if he doesn’t head back to the NFL.
The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback, whose federal sentence for dogfighting ends July 20, would be welcomed by The Minor Football League, consisting of professional teams in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Tour de France
Armstrong still second
Perpignan, France — In less than 48 hours, Lance Armstrong will have answered the last unresolved question about his capacity to win an eighth Tour de France: Can he still climb?
The 37-year-old Texan is second overall, but about to face his toughest test in this year’s Tour as the grueling three-week race arrives in the Pyrenees mountains.
Armstrong didn’t take any risks during Wednesday’s fifth stage with the mountains looming. Thomas Voeckler of France won the 122-mile ride along a windy Mediterranean Sea from Le Cap d’Agde to Perpignan after a long breakaway.
Morneau skipping derby
Minneapolis — There will be a new champion crowned at the home run derby this year.
Minnesota Twins slugger Justin Morneau says he has declined an invitation to participate in the popular All-Star Game event. He says he wants to rest and would prefer to watch.
Blue Jays release Ryan
St. Petersburg, Fla. — The Toronto Blue Jays have released one-time closer B.J. Ryan and activated current closer Scott Downs from the 15-day disabled list.
Dykstra files for bankruptcy
Los Angeles — Former New York Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra has sought bankruptcy protection in Los Angeles, citing more than $31 million in debts.
Fehr’s successor picked
New York — Michael Weiner has been approved unanimously by the Major League Baseball Players Association executive board to succeed Donald Fehr as the union’s head.
The board decided during a conference call to put the decision to a vote of its full membership, which includes players, managers, coaches and trainers.
Dunk video confiscated
Akron, Ohio — A minor controversy erupted at the LeBron James Skills Academy on Monday night when two videographers recorded a pickup game in which Xavier’s Jordan Crawford dunked on James.
Gary Parrish reported on CBSSports.com that a Nike representative confiscated tapes of the dunk after conferring with James.
A representative with Nike, which runs the camp at the University of Akron in James’ hometown, made no mention of Crawford’s dunk. He said the tapes were confiscated because videotaping of after-hours pickup games at the camp is not allowed.
Artest, Wallace sign
Finally a Laker, Ron Artest won’t guarantee another ring for his new team.
Especially not since some recent NBA champions made moves that could get them back to the top.
Boston and San Antonio signed veteran power forwards Wednesday, with Rasheed Wallace joining the Celtics and Antonio McDyess agreeing to a deal with the Spurs.
Birdman staying in Denver
Denver — Chris “Birdman” Andersen has reached a five-year deal to keep his high-flying, shot-blocking act with the Denver Nuggets, the team he revived his career with last season.
Yao likely out for season
Houston — The Houston Rockets are still hoping Yao Ming returns next season, but they have been able to cash in on his injury.
The Rockets applied for a disabled player exception from the NBA a few weeks ago, betting that their All-Star center will miss next season due to a hairline fracture in his left foot.
Mavs getting Marion
Dallas— A person with knowledge of the deal says the Dallas Mavericks will acquire forward Shawn Marion from Toronto. The trade is not official, but the person told the Associated Press on Wednesday it should be completed.
Raptors re-sign Bargnani
Toronto — The Toronto Raptors have re-signed former No. 1 pick Andrea Bargnani to a five-year contract extension.
Kings sign top pick Evans
The Sacramento Kings have signed guard Tyreke Evans, the No. 4 overall pick in last month’s draft.
Other NBA signings:
n The Indiana Pacers have signed Tyler Hansbrough, the former North Carolina star who was the team’s top pick in the NBA Draft.
n The Milwaukee Bucks have signed second-round pick Jodie Meeks to a three-year contract.
n Stephen Curry, the seventh overall pick, has signed with the Golden State Warriors.
NASCAR wants ban
Charlotte, N.C. — NASCAR on Wednesday asked an appeals court to ban Jeremy Mayfield from racing, alleging the participation of “a proven methamphetamine user” could lead to fatal consequences for other competitors and fans.
Phelps wins two races
Indianapolis — Michael Phelps won the 200-meter freestyle and 200 butterfly at the U.S. nationals Wednesday night, earning himself a trip to the world championships later this month.
Aaron Peirsol reclaimed his world record in the 100 backstroke. The Olympic champion trailed Matt Grevers at 50 meters before pouring it on down the stretch to win in 51.94 seconds.