Michael Strahan Biography

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Birth Name: Michael Strahan
Born: 11/21/1971
Birth Place: Houston, Texas, USA

Born Nov. 21, 1971 in Houston, TX, Michael Anthony Strahan was one of six children by Army major Gene Strahan and his wife, Louise. Raised primarily on an army base in Mannheim, Germany, he showed little interest in sports until the age of 13, when he began watching "Monday Night Football" (ABC/ESPN, 1970- ) with his father during its broadcast in Germany, which happened to air at 3 a.m. in Europe. Strahan soon began exercising regularly, which, upon reaching his adult height of 6'5", transformed him into a physically formidable young man. Sensing that his son had potential as a football player, Strahan's father sent him to live with his uncle, Arthur Strahan, a former defensive end for the Houston Oilers and Atlanta Falcons who lived in Houston. There, Strahan so impressed coaches at Westbury High School that after only one season of play, he was given a football scholarship to Texas Southern University.

After a difficult start, Strahan established himself as a star on the rise by his junior season. The Associated Press twice named him Black College Defensive Player of the Year and All-American in 1992. His record-setting statistic of 41.5 tackles, with 19 quarterback takedowns in his senior year alone, was enough to garner the attention of the New York Giants, which drafted him in 1993. Unfortunately, Strahan's rookie season was plagued by injuries, which allowed him to play in just nine games. By the following year, he began his steady climb to prominence in his fifth season in 1997, which found him landing 14 sacks and a starter position on the NFL Pro Bowl Squad. The following year, he led his team in tackles, which led to a four-year, $32 million contract with the Giants. Unfortunately, it preceded a lengthy, tumultuous period for Strahan in which his ability to play was hampered by consistent injuries.

Negative criticism poured in from fans and the media alike, which reached its boiling point after Strahan criticized his teammates and Giants coach Jim Fassel for failing to do their share for the team. He soon apologized for his statements and began a steady period of rebuilding his career on both the physical and emotional fronts. By 2001, he had recommitted himself to the Giants, which also transformed itself from a losing franchise to a Super Bowl contender against the Baltimore Ravens, who were ultimately victorious in their match at Super Bowl XXXV in 2000. The following year, Strahan set the NFL record for sacks in a single season with 22.5, while earning NFL Defensive Player of the Year and National Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Still, there were many that believed Strahan's primary focus was his salary, a notion borne out by his rejection of a seven-year, $58 million contract from the Giants which included a $17 million signing bonus. His actions drew open criticism from his teammates, some of whom branded Strahan as greedy. He eventually returned to the team, netting his second National Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year award in 2003 before suffering a torn pectoral muscle that kept him out of the game for most of 2004. The following year, Strahan rebounded in spectacular fashion with a return to the Pro Bowl that saw him deliver a combined 26 sacks with fellow defensive end Osi Umenyiora.

Sports media pundits predicted that the 2005 season would be Strahan's last, especially after his failure to report to Giants training camp for the 2006 season and subsequent absence from the entire preseason. However, he soon defied expectations by tying Lawrence Taylor's record for most career sacks by a Giants player. Once again, physical injury kept him out of the game for the remainder of the season and playoffs, but Strahan had one final accolade to achieve. After setting a franchise record for most career sacks (133.5) in 2007, he provided stellar defense in Super Bowl XLII, which the Giants captured in a 17-14 win. The following year, Strahan retired with 141.5 career sacks, 794 career tackles and seven visits to the Pro Bowl.

In the final years of his football career, Strahan began to parlay his charming and often humorous off-the-field manner into a string of successful commercials and television appearances. After his retirement, he became a popular spokesperson and host for various TV projects, including the reality series "Backyard Stadiums" (DIY Network, 2007) and "Fox NFL Sunday," which he joined as a football analyst in 2008. In 2009, he flirted briefly with acting as the lead on the Fox sitcom "Brothers" (2009), which cast him as a retired football player. The following year, he began his first of many guest turns as a co-host on "Live! with Regis and Kelly." His popularity in this role was crucial in his appointment as Kelly Ripa's permanent co-host in September 2012.

By Paul Gaita