Michael Strahan takes his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. Enshrinement comes a year later than it should have for the gap-toothed former New York Giants great, who missed out in his first year on the ballot. It is, however, an honor that is richly deserved for Strahan, probably the second-best defensive player in Giants history behind Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor.
Strahan's 15-year career with the Giants ended when he helped them defeat the New England Patriots, 17-14, in Super Bowl XLII. There were many, many great moments during a career that began in 1993 and ended in 2007. The video below illustrates many of them.
When we put together the '2014 New York Giants Almanac' I asked Big Blue View contributors for their favorite Strahan memories. Here are a couple of them.
"My favorite memory of Michael Strahan? Wow! I don't think I can crystallize what that man has done to just one memory. If I may, I might have to cheat a little bit and say that my favorite time seeing the big guy was when he had his epic battles against the Philadelphia Eagles' Jon Runyan. Whenever the Giants played the Eagles, my eyes were glued on that spot only.
"Of course, you could easily pick his record-breaking sack season, or his swan song where he led the Giants to their first championship in more than 15 years in 2007. I maintain that the battles make the man, and I'll miss Strahan crushing Runyan and sacking the midnight green for years to come. "
Interestingly, Runyan has so much respect for Strahan that he is making the trip to Canton, Oh., for the enshrinement ceremony. Give the man credit, that is a class move.
"With Michael Strahan getting his gap-toothed likeness in Canton this summer, all I can think is "about time". Yes, it is only his second ballot and there have been deserving players who have had to wait far longer, but considering the length and breadth of his career, Strahan practically defines "First Ballot Hall Of Famer". Very few players are as decorated as Strahan was over his 15-year career, and fewer still get to spend their whole careers with the teams that drafted them and retire on their own terms after winning a championship.
"Over that 15-year career Strahan gave Giants fans plenty of memories, but for me the one that stands out the most is Super Bowl 42. While Stray didn't give anything like the iconic imagery of the Eli to Tyree pass, he did play a very big part in stymieing one of the most potent offenses the NFL has ever seen. The twin sound bites of the "STOMP 'EM OUT!" pre-game ritual and "17-14 is the final, believe it and it WILL happen. One score and we are world champions," sum up that amazing game and season perfectly to me."
Giants coach Tom Coughlin battled with Strahan during the early part of Coughlin's tenure in New York. When the two finally got on the same page in 2007, the result was magical. Earlier this week, Coughlin said he felt "incredible pride" in Strahan's Hall of Fame enshrinement.
"Michael Strahan was a great football player. He had ability and was taught right from the beginning. He practiced hard, ran to the ball, was a great example for the younger guys in doing that, and excellent in the classroom," Coughlin said. "He was a dynamic leader and had one of those magnetic personalities where everyone was attracted to him. He was a superb player on the field in both the pass and the run."
Strahan was drafted by the Giants in the second round of the 1993 NFL Draft. Jordan Ranaan of NJ.com recently uncovered the Giants' pre-draft scouting report on Strahan -- one which turned out to be deadly accurate. Without the scout's short-hand, it reads like this:
"A tall good-looking athlete who needs bulk and additional strength for next level. He has plenty of quickness, agility, balance, speed and change of direction to be a very good pass rusher. No reason why he can't grow into a power rusher, neutralize and control line-of-scrimmage type. An upfield player for Texas Southern. Not a leverage player and runs himself out of too many players. Michael is aggressive and works hard in pursuit. Potential to be a top player in NFL. A situational pass-rusher first year. Senior Bowl and Indy [Combine] workout helped his grade."
Take a look for yourself at the actual scouting report, short-hand and all:
The Giants' 1993, pre-draft scouting report of Texas Southern Univ. DE Michael Strahan... pic.twitter.com/dnoKOZ6ITj— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 1, 2014
Here is what former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi thinks of Strahan:
"I have never seen an elite pass rusher that played the run as well as he did, because it doesn’t happen. Now believe me, I understand the strategy that a lot of it was to negate his pass rush. But I know that [Vince] Lombardi used to run at Deacon Jones. You just didn’t run at Michael Strahan.
"That wasn’t going to do you any good at all. You might slow down his pass rush, but he was going to make the play."
Strahan told Giants.com that he always took tremendous pride in his work defending the run:
"You can’t be one-dimensional, you’re not in the game just to rush the passer. You’re in the game to be a complete player. I never wanted to be that player that if a team needed a yard, you were the guy they looked at and say, ‘We’re going to get them right there.’ I wanted the opposite. I wanted to look at me and fear even thinking about running at me. I enjoyed playing the run more than I enjoyed playing the passer. I think that’s why I took so much pride in it. I wasn’t a pass rusher converted to a run player. I was a run-stopper who happened to be able to rush the passer pretty well, also."
Strahan, of course, has gone on to television fame. Millions ofknow him not as a football player, but as co-host of 'Kelly & Michael,' and because of his work with 'Good Morning America' and as an NFL analyst for FOX Sports.
What are your favorite Strahan memories, Giants' fans? Use this thread Friday and Saturday to discuss the latest great Giant to enter football's Hall of Fame. Congrats, Michael. You earned it.