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Mystery of married football star shot dead with woman

Police are trying to unravel the relationship between the former NFL quarterback Steve McNair and his friend, a 20-year-old woman, both found shot to death in his downtown condominium.

McNair, a star player for the Tennessee Titans who led them to the Super Bowl game and was named Most Valuable Player in the NFL in 2003, was found on a sofa in his living-room on Saturday with multiple gunshot wounds, including one to the head. His friend, Sahel Kazemi, was very close to him on the floor, killed by a single gunshot. A pistol was discovered near her, but police said it took a while to find the firearm. Authorities did not immediately say who was to blame for the killings, but they were not looking for any suspects.

McNair, 36, and Ms Kazemi were together just two days earlier, when she was pulled over driving a 2007 Escalade registered to her and McNair. She was arrested on drink-driving charges, and he was allowed to leave in a taxi.

McNair and Ms Kazemi apparently knew each other from a restaurant the quarterback and his family frequented, but workers there would not talk about their relationship. Police also refused to release further details, simply calling Ms Kazemi a "friend". A police spokesman, Don Aaron, said McNair's wife, Mechelle, is "very distraught". He added: "At this juncture, we do not believe she is involved. Nothing has been ruled out, but as far as actively looking for a suspect, the answer would be, No."

Fred McNair, the sports star's oldest brother, said some family members will travel to Nashville today to console Mechelle. "It's still kind of hard to believe," he said. "He was the greatest person in the world. He gave back to the community. He loved kids and he wanted to be a role model to kids." He said he did not know who Ms Kazemi was.

The bodies were discovered by McNair's friend, Wayne Neeley, who rents the condo with him. Mr Neeley told authorities he went into the condo, saw McNair and Ms Kazemi, but walked first into the kitchen before going back into the living-room. Mr Neeley called a friend, who alerted authorities.

Police said a witness saw McNair arrive at the condo in the upscale Rutledge Hill neighbourhood between 1.30am and 2am on Saturday and that Ms Kazemi's vehicle was already there. An arrest affidavit from Thursday said she had bloodshot eyes and alcohol on her breath when she was pulled over, but refused a breathalyser test, saying "she was not drunk, she was high".

McNair and his family were said to frequent the restaurant where Ms Kazemi was a waitress, Dave & Buster's in Nashville. Keith Norfleet, Ms Kazemi's ex-boyfriend, told The Tennessean newspaper that McNair and Ms Kazemi met at the restaurant. The restaurant manager Chris Truelove said: "She was reliable 90 per cent of the time. She was pretty outgoing. A lot of the guests liked being around her, and she liked being around the guests."