Jennifer Hanson told the story of the song in an interview with The Boot
: "'Country Strong' was an idea that Mark had actually gotten from an interview he saw with Steve McNair, who was the former Tennessee Titans quarterback. It was 2001, and it was the year that Mark and I went to the Super Bowl. Steve kept getting hurt and injured. They asked him, 'How do you keep playing when you're hurt?' Steve said, 'Well the boys on the team call me "Country Strong."' He was from Mississippi, so he had this thick, southern drawl when he talked. 'Country Strong' was his nickname.
Before that day, I had been sitting in the kitchen. I had gotten up early that morning, and I was sitting there with my guitar. This melody fell out of me. There was nothing that inspired it other than just picking up the instrument, and melodically it fell out. When I ran it by Mark after the Super Bowl, he said, 'I think I've got an idea for that melody.' He thought the chorus melody I had was perfect for his 'Country Strong' title. We took the title and the chorus melody to Tony, and the three of us finished the song together."