NASHVILLE -- For the first time since the Titans locked him out of team headquarters in 2006 during a contract impasse, Steve McNair visited the building this afternoon. He spoke to reporters to publicize an upcoming charity event, then went on to watch practice.
He joked that he was a bit scared walking in and relieved that the door opened.
Tennessee wouldn't let McNair work out in its building that spring because it feared an injury would put the franchise on the hook for $23.46 million against the salary cap. McNair's contract had been restructured so often that his salary cap number ballooned to that hard-to-manage number.
An arbitrator who heard the NFL Players Association's grievance ruled that the team violated his contract, hastening a trade to Baltimore for a fourth-round draft pick.
He played two seasons with the Ravens before retiring on April 17.
McNair said he always viewed the rift that ended his career with the Titans as a business issue that he accepted. He said coach Jeff Fisher has encouraged him to return for a practice and to talk with the team.
"This organization's been great to me," he said. "They gave me the opportunity to play 11 years and take care of my family."
A longtime friend of Brett Favre, McNair said he did not feel a similar itch to return.
"I scratched mine," he said, laughing. "If I get the itch I go ahead and scratch it. I think overall if you look back on Brett Favre's career and the year he had last year, it was going to be kind of hard for him to give it up.
"You always want to kind of go out on a high note, but at the same time when you're as competitive as Brett is, and you've got the ability and the mindset to continue to play, he just wanted to continue to play. He's got the opportunity with the Jets and he's happy and I'm happy for him."
While McNair, 35, might have felt like he could have played mentally, his body wasn't going to allow it and that prevented any second-guessing, he said.
Asked if anyone had called, McNair said: "No, my phone was off the hook."
He's been a mentor to current Titans quarterback Vince Young since Young attended one of his camps. While he hasn't bothered him much during training camp, McNair said he still talks to Young regularly.
"The thing about it is you've got to take the good with the bad," McNair said. "You can't get caught up in just the good things and you can't get down on the bad things. You have to even it out. You're going to have bad games, you're going to have bad things happen. But you're going to have that mental mindset that the next series you've got to forget about the past series and move on.
"And I think that's the thing Vince has to do after something bad happens is just move on and forget about it. My philosophy when I was playing for 13 years was you've got to have amnesia. You've got to forget it and move on."
Paul Kuharsky covers the NFL for ESPN.com.