New York Giants defensive end Robert Ayers is from Jersey City, N.J., and grew up idolizing Michael Strahan.So much so, in fact that just a year ago he got an autograph from the Hall of Fame for Giant.
"Growing up in the area, he was a role model, I idolized him. Local TV always had the Giants on, so he was the guy that I watched, you know, tearing people's heads off. Him, Amani Toomer, Tiki Barber, all those guys. I grew up watching that. My father played the position he [Strahan] played. My father wanted to go to college and play defensive line. Unfortunately, his career didn't go where he wanted it to go. But, watching him, he would always have me watching John Randle out in Minnesota. Those are the two guys that I grew up, that my father made sure I watched," Ayers said. "When I got a chance to meet him, I was kind of in awe a little bit because this is my first time meeting someone that I actually idolized. There are other guys that I would like to meet in my life like Mike Tyson, Michael Jordan — I would love to meet Muhammad Ali. He was one of those guys that were on that list for me. I got to meet him and I got his autograph and I wasn't shy about asking him for it. It was kind of, awkward, but. ...
"It was last year in the offseason. I had him sign my hat. I'm gonna get it framed."
Pretty cool sometimes to see that the big, macho NFL players were once just fans -- and sometimes still are.