NFL

The Unbelievable Way Michael Strahan Got Into Television

Today, Michael Strahan is a television star. The vast majority of viewers who recognize his iconic smile consider him a professional TV anchor and host. But sports fans know better.

Before Strahan hosted game shows and helped America wake up as Regis Philbin’s replacement, he was a record-breaking monster on the gridiron. So how did this New York Giants superstar go from there to here?

Michael Strahan’s NFL Days

Well before Strahan was an ever-present figure on television, he was a crucial defensive end for the New York Giants. Contrary to his beaming personality off the field, he was a brutal figure in the NFL.

The Giants drafted Strahan in 1993. Both the organization and Strahan himself saw no reason to change a working formula for 15 consecutive seasons. He represents a rare player who manages to complete his entire career with the same organization — especially one in the midst of major success. 

As if confirming to the New York front office that he absolutely deserved their vote of confidence, Strahan had a shining moment in 2001, well into his career. He broke the record for sacks in a single season with 22.5. And the sack that put him over the top was against Hall of Fame Packers quarterback Brett Favre.

Strahan’s career ended on top in a way only a handful of NFL players get to experience: the Giants’ 2007 Super Bowl win against the previously undefeated New England Patriots. Strahan was ready to go, and there wasn’t a better moment to keep his legacy intact.

How a strange interview led to Strahan’s career in entertainment

After helping the Giants win their first Super Bowl since 1990, Strahan was ready to move on. Athletes always have a powerful competitive drive; while Strahan’s never wavered, he found himself at a crossroads.

The 36-year-old wasn’t sure where to go next. Then, as PBS reports, he got a call. The local NYC station invited Strahan to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit party. He eagerly agreed. But the network expected more than Strahan simply attending as a guest.

After spending some time at the event, a producer asked Strahan to interview some models. He awkwardly obliged. Finally, the record-smashing former NFL star found something he wasn’t particularly good at. It set a fire underneath him to change this. A future TV mainstay soon emerged from this impulse.

Michael Strahan’s vibrant career today

Strahan took any job his agent could find and continued to hone his new craft as a media personality. In 2008, he quickly found a natural fit with the Fox NFL Pregame Show. But it wasn’t enough. He kept taking jobs outside of the sports world whenever possible — and it paid off handsomely.

In 2010, Strahan become the venerable Regis Philbin’s replacement on Live! With Regis and Kelly. He held down the popular morning show through 2016, setting off a ratings surge in the process.

Strahan left that show for an even bigger job as a full-time contributor to Good Morning America. And his resume continues to grow. Some notable gigs include the reboot of the game show The $100,000 Pyramid and appearances in the latest Charlie’s Angels film. He’s a regular choice for huge brands looking to advertise products with a beloved, familiar face.

Michael Strahan is the perfect example of a multifaceted media personality. When he played in the NFL, he muscled his way to all-time records. When he decided his body had enough, he leveraged his other great asset: his winning personality, to equivalent — and far more lucrative — success.