NFL

Michael Strahan Finally Got His Well-Deserved Thank You

Michael Strahan played 15 seasons in the NFL, all of them with the New York Giants. He went out a winner after his Giants shocked the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42. The night after the Giants were crowned Super Bowl champions, Strahan delivered some surprising news to defensive end Justin Tuck that triggered an emotional response.

Michael Strahan had a Hall-of-Fame career

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Michael Strahan was a beast on the football field. He played his college football at Texas Southern and was a second-round pick in the 1993 NFL draft. He was selected with the 40th overall pick by the New York Giants.

Strahan, a 6-foot-5, 255-pound defensive end, only appeared in nine games his rookie season, collecting one sack, but then he started 15 games in each of the next two years. In his third season, Strahan finished with 7.5 sacks and had a pair of interceptions. He didn’t really get rolling until 1997 when he made the first of his seven Pro Bowls by finishing with 14 sacks.

In 2001, Strahan had a monster season when he led the league in sacks with 22.5. He also led the NFL with six forced fumbles that season and was named Defensive Player of the Year. Strahan again led the league in sacks with 18 in 2003. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.

Strahan retired after a win in Super Bowl 42

Michael Strahan went out on top. Right after the New York Giants shocked the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42 to ruin New England’s bid to run the table, Strahan called it quits. To some, the news wasn’t surprising. To teammate Justin Tuck, it hit hard.

“The night after we upset the undefeated Patriots in 2008, I was up in my hotel room in Phoenix when I heard a knock at the door,” Tuck wrote in The Players’ Tribune on Feb. 3. “I looked through the little peephole and saw Strahan and (teammate) Osi (Umenyiora) standing in the hall. Stray had a box of cigars. I guess he was making the rounds before everybody went out to party. He had already told Osi. Now, he was coming to tell me. He was retiring.”

Tuck always joked that Strahan was the old guy on the team. He, Umenyiora, and Strahan were always joking together. “Now, to understand the range of emotions I felt in that moment, you have to understand the history of me, Stray and Osi,” Tuck wrote. “I mean, we used to talk so much s–t to Stray. We treated him like he was the old fart and we were the two young bulls coming in to take the Giants to the promised land. We always gave (Strahan) a hard time. And he dished it right back to us.”

Strahan finally got his well-deserved thank you

When Justin Tuck came to terms that Michael Strahan was retiring from the NFL, the constant joking took a back seat. It was time to be serious. Tuck wanted to show how he felt about his teammate and friend.

“We’d call him a dinosaur and tell him we were going to push him out of the league,” Tuck wrote in The Players’ Tribune. “We always gave him a hard time. But one thing we never did was say thank you. We never told him what he truly meant to us and how much we learned just from watching him. How he helped us mold our skills and find the things inside us that would make us great. How if it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t have grown into the players we became.

“Without Stray, we would not have been world champions. That night, we got our chance to tell him. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite nights. The three of us just sitting in my hotel room, me and Osi letting Stray know how much we appreciated him, toasting to his incredible career, and just being grateful that we were able to send him off with a ring.”