Sports Top Stories


Strahan Embraces Life En Route To The NFL Hall of Fame

By John McMullen, NFL Editorテつ

Canton, OH ( - Transition can be a dirty word for aテつ
professional athlete.テつ

Over the course of a lifetime, a career, especially in the NFL, is a veryテつ
short one and once the cheering stops, players often find themselves searchingテつ
for something to replace the adulation.テつ

Not Michael Strahan, the former New York Giants' star who is set to beテつ
enshrined in the Hall of Fame on Saturday night.テつ

"If you want to feel like Superman," Strahan said on Friday, "that is a greatテつ
way to do it."テつ

If anything Strahan is a bigger star today than he ever was when he wasテつ
terrorizing quarterbacks throughout his 15-year NFL career. And that's notテつ
hyperbole even though the Houston native earned seven Pro Bowl selections andテつ
five All-Pro nods with the Giants after being drafted by the club in theテつ
second round of the 1993 NFL Draft out of Texas Southern.テつ

"My goal when I first started was just to make a little money so I didn't haveテつ
to move back to my parents' house," Strahan said. "I didn't want to disappointテつ
my parents. So that was my goal, to kind of just make my parents proud, makeテつ
them happy, play as hard and just do the best I could do."テつ

Mission accomplished.テつ

Strahan was a dominant NFL pass rusher, amassing an NFL single-season recordテつ
22 1/2 sacks in 2001 and finishing with 141 1/2 over his career, fifth all-テつ
time behind fellow HOF members Bruce Smith, Reggie White and Chris Doleman asテつ
well as Kevin Greene. Strahan, though, was no one-trick pony and was also theテつ
rare two-way defensive end, regarded as one of the best edge players defendingテつ
the run.テつ

"I loved playing the run more than rushing after the quarterback," Strahanテつ
told reporters in Canton. "That is a fact. I loved the fact that the other guyテつ
was 100 pounds bigger than me and no way I'm supposed to beat him.テつ

"But if I'm strong, I use leverage, if I get off the ball quicker, if Iテつ
studied him enough to know him better than he knows himself, I can get in theテつ
backfield and make a play and get up and look and there is a 350-pound guy onテつ
the ground and I'm standing over his guy like, 'Guess what?'"テつ

Strahan also turned it up against the toughest competition, leading aテつ
ferocious defense that stunned the previously unbeaten and 12-point favoriteテつ
New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, and often excelling against playersテつ
like Jon Runyan, the former star right tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles whoテつ
is currently the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 3rd congressionalテつ

Strahan has often described the nasty Runyan as the toughest player heテつ
ever competed against but a quick look at the numbers says Strahan had moreテつ
sacks against Runyan's Eagles than anyone else (21 1/2).テつ

Despite all of that Strahan remains tremendously self-deprecating, evenテつ
claiming he's not sure if he could have cracked the starting lineup if he wasテつ
competing against the defensive ends who replaced him with "Big Blue."テつ

"These guys are so talented, I don't know if I would have started," Strahanテつ
said. "If you look at Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul andテつ
myself, I'm No. 4 ... I'm No. 4, believe me. Talent-wise and looking at whatテつ
these guys can do, I'm No. 4 easily."テつ

As good as Tuck and Umenyiora were on the Giants and JPP continues to be, noneテつ
of those players are on a trajectory toward Canton.テつ

Strahan's post-NFL resume is arguably more impressive. A player who alwaysテつ
embraced media attention while active, Strahan himself has become a larger-テつ
than-life television personality and pitchman, often playing up his gap-テつ
toothed smile.テつ

Football remains a part of his eclectic playlist but it's just a small pieceテつ
of the Strahan brand. He remains an analyst on Fox NFL Sunday but his farテつ
bigger gigs are his spots for Subway, along with his co-hosting gig on theテつ
television morning talk show "Live! with Kelly and Michael," alongside Kellyテつ
Ripa, a post formerly manned by the legendary Regis Philbin.テつ

Strahan's personality is so gregarious that he was even given the opportunityテつ
to star in a FOX sitcom and he was the host of Pros vs. Joes alongside fellowテつ
good friend, national NFL writer Jay Glazer, who is scheduled to induct him onテつ
Saturday. His "Q rating" is such that his breakup after a five-year engagementテつ
to Nicole Murphy was major entertainment news.テつ

In times good or bad, though, the smile remains, so much so that it became aテつ
problem for Blair Buswell, the Pro Football Hall of Fame's chief sculptor.テつ

Buswell always recommends that inductees not smile when they are sitting forテつ
their busts because "teeth don't look good on bronze busts."テつ

"I presented a unique challenge, because I told him I wanted to smile,"テつ
Strahan told the New Yorker. "If I close my mouth, people won't know who itテつ

Somehow I think they would have figured it out.テつ

Copyright テつゥ 2014テつ
Metro Networks Inc.テつテつ


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