Wednesday, June 11, 2008

GIANTS' STRAHAN BIDS TEAM FAREWELL

Quotable:"At some point you have to realize that you've done all that you can do, all you need to do. It's Over!" Michael Strahan, New York Giants

What is in the water nowadays? Many speculate it's a myriad of things from growth hormones to steroids to good ole yellow no. 5 (a common dye found in most food and beverage products). Personally my theory is that it's a brand of irony that is "forcing" the greats of the sports and entertainment industries into a questionable retirement. Considering ten years ago retirement meant you took the fruits of your 401k and or IRA kicked back and put up your feet, now the announcement of retirement is more of a bargaining chip to up your stock.

First there's Brett Favre in his teary-eyed farewell in an emotional leave from the world's game stepchild, American football. Then Floyd Mayweather Jr. (that's "Money" Mayweather to you) bids ado to the rapidly declining world of boxing and now Michael Strahan (New York Giants defensive end) beaming his signature gap toothed smile declares "it's over!" With a Super Bowl win, seven Pro Bowl appearances and the record for fifth most sacks in NFL history under his belt, Strahan is certainly having it "his way", on his own terms. To his fellow teammates and his agent, his announcement about retiring came as a no surprise. In fact prior to the Giants unprecedented Super Bowl victory, he contemplated retirement after 14 seasons accomplishing every achievement imaginable to an NFL star just shy of a Super Bowl ring.

"Money was never the issue. Really I thought he was going to retire before last season. I'm happy he stayed around." Strahan's agent, Tony Agnone reported to the Associated Press.

Not even an offer by the front office to up the ante in his salary by an additional undisclosed amount on top of his $4 million dollar contract could change his mind. As the 36 year old Super bowl champion revealed, physically he still has plenty of life in him. His actions on the field and accolades by Giants coach, Tom Coughlin and opponents as well as friends speak for themselves. The "consummate" Giant as he is affectionately and jokingly nicknamed by Coughlin, started 15 of 16 times in the regular season while managing to rack up 46 tackles and nine sacks. Strahan is the Giant's career sacks leader in case you didn't know and at one point he set a single season NFL mark of 22.5 sacks back in 2001 as a Packer. Not bad for a second round draft pick from a small time Texas Southern University. Justifiably the underrated defensive end was instrumental in leading underdog to a championship victory. John Mara adamantly claims that the Giants' couldn't have done it without him and the sentiment around the league is unanimous in what the future holds for Strahan – Hall of Famer.

"Michael is not only one of the great Giants of all time but also one of the great defensive players in the NFL history. It was an honor to spend my entire career as his teammate." Former teammate, Tiki Barber notes.

I recall a pre Super Bowl prediction by fellow teammate Plaxico Burress that Patriots' fans and analysts unfairly labeled bold. While the Patriots certainly brought an offensive prowess and a defensive pressure cooker unmatched by many, the Giants will to win and team synergy managed to lock down the Pats power ranking defense 17-14 over New England in Super Bowl XLII. Simply put the Giants brought their A game. Even in the midst of anti-Patriots sentiment, Michael rallied for the Giants from the locker room to the sidelines as well as in the press in the good old fashioned "Ask not what your team can do for you, but what you can do for your team" mantra from taking young Giants' defensive ends under his wing to creating a humorous little jig he good naturedly called the "Strahan Stomp" to commensurate the Giants rise to Super Bowl champions.

Perhaps good friend Jon Runyan of the Philadelphia Eagles said it best. "You think that a situation where the guy exits winning a Super Bowl – going out on top – and if you could write a book, that's the way you'd want to end it."

"Icing on the cake." No small feat for a great guy whose tremendous career was far from on the decline.

1 comment:

AnthoNorm6 said...

Michael Strahan was the face of the New York "Football" Giants since Lawrence "LT" Taylor left the team(retired)...He had a great career even though Brett Favre let him tackle him on purpose to get the single season sack title...All in all, even with his gap, he was the man on defense..He is a hall of famer and he has the ring that everybody who comes into the league wants..He went out on top just like John Elway in 1998 when they defeated the Atlanta Falcons and Jerome "The Bus" Bettis when they beat the Seattle Seahawks...