By John McMullen, NFL Editor
Canton, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Transition can be a dirty word for a
Over the course of a lifetime, a career, especially in the NFL, is a very
short one and once the cheering stops, players often find themselves searching
for something to replace the adulation.
Not Michael Strahan, the former New York Giants' star who is set to be
enshrined in the Hall of Fame on Saturday night.
"If you want to feel like Superman," Strahan said on Friday, "that is a great
way to do it."
If anything Strahan is a bigger star today than he ever was when he was
terrorizing quarterbacks throughout his 15-year NFL career. And that's not
hyperbole even though the Houston native earned seven Pro Bowl selections and
five All-Pro nods with the Giants after being drafted by the club in the
second round of the 1993 NFL Draft out of Texas Southern.
"My goal when I first started was just to make a little money so I didn't have
to move back to my parents' house," Strahan said. "I didn't want to disappoint
my parents. So that was my goal, to kind of just make my parents proud, make
them happy, play as hard and just do the best I could do."
Strahan was a dominant NFL pass rusher, amassing an NFL single-season record
22 1/2 sacks in 2001 and finishing with 141 1/2 over his career, fifth all-
time behind fellow HOF members Bruce Smith, Reggie White and Chris Doleman as
well as Kevin Greene. Strahan, though, was no one-trick pony and was also the
rare two-way defensive end, regarded as one of the best edge players defending
"I loved playing the run more than rushing after the quarterback," Strahan
told reporters in Canton. "That is a fact. I loved the fact that the other guy
was 100 pounds bigger than me and no way I'm supposed to beat him.
"But if I'm strong, I use leverage, if I get off the ball quicker, if I
studied him enough to know him better than he knows himself, I can get in the
backfield and make a play and get up and look and there is a 350-pound guy on
the ground and I'm standing over his guy like, 'Guess what?'"
Strahan also turned it up against the toughest competition, leading a
ferocious defense that stunned the previously unbeaten and 12-point favorite
New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, and often excelling against players
like Jon Runyan, the former star right tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles who
is currently the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 3rd congressional
Strahan has often described the nasty Runyan as the toughest player he
ever competed against but a quick look at the numbers says Strahan had more
sacks against Runyan's Eagles than anyone else (21 1/2).
Despite all of that Strahan remains tremendously self-deprecating, even
claiming he's not sure if he could have cracked the starting lineup if he was
competing against the defensive ends who replaced him with "Big Blue."
"These guys are so talented, I don't know if I would have started," Strahan
said. "If you look at Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul and
myself, I'm No. 4 ... I'm No. 4, believe me. Talent-wise and looking at what
these guys can do, I'm No. 4 easily."
As good as Tuck and Umenyiora were on the Giants and JPP continues to be, none
of those players are on a trajectory toward Canton.
Strahan's post-NFL resume is arguably more impressive. A player who always
embraced media attention while active, Strahan himself has become a larger-
than-life television personality and pitchman, often playing up his gap-
Football remains a part of his eclectic playlist but it's just a small piece
of the Strahan brand. He remains an analyst on Fox NFL Sunday but his far
bigger gigs are his spots for Subway, along with his co-hosting gig on the
television morning talk show "Live! with Kelly and Michael," alongside Kelly
Ripa, a post formerly manned by the legendary Regis Philbin.
Strahan's personality is so gregarious that he was even given the opportunity
to star in a FOX sitcom and he was the host of Pros vs. Joes alongside fellow
good friend, national NFL writer Jay Glazer, who is scheduled to induct him on
Saturday. His "Q rating" is such that his breakup after a five-year engagement
to Nicole Murphy was major entertainment news.
In times good or bad, though, the smile remains, so much so that it became a
problem for Blair Buswell, the Pro Football Hall of Fame's chief sculptor.
Buswell always recommends that inductees not smile when they are sitting for
their busts because "teeth don't look good on bronze busts."
"I presented a unique challenge, because I told him I wanted to smile,"
Strahan told the New Yorker. "If I close my mouth, people won't know who it
Somehow I think they would have figured it out.
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