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Sunday, August 3, 2014
Michael Strahan, 'Improbable' Hall of Famer

By Dan Graziano

CANTON, Ohio -- In a sprawling, 34-minute induction speech Saturday night at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan invoked Jane Fonda workout tapes, said he still doesn't understand "Coughlin Time" and told longtime rival Jon Runyan that he knew his tells. It was all over the map, but it was kind of fitting for a guy whose life could be described the same way.

The final speaker of the seven new Hall of Famers on Saturday, Strahan began his speech with his memory of being a husky 13-year-old living in Mannheim, Germany, and ended it by singling out his "TV wife," Kelly Ripa, who was in the audience to watch his enshrinement ceremony. He opened by calling himself "an improbable Hall of Famer, an improbable football player" and closed it with these words:

Michael Strahan
Michael Strahan's Hall of Fame speech was like his New York Giants career: a whirlwind of success and entertainment.
"Improbability means nothing, because absolutely anything is possible."

Strahan is a testament to that, an amalgamation of circumstance, influence and wildly varied success. He's a huge international TV superstar who seemed truly touched by the weekend's celebration of his football career. As he and his bronze Hall of Fame bust showed his famous gap-toothed smile, he told the following tales, among others:

And that might have been the Strahan line of the night. This is a guy who lived through three very different Giants eras until the final game of his career was the most improbable of all -- the Super Bowl XLII victory over the unbeaten Patriots. This is a guy who once said on the air, as a guest on Ripa and Regis Philbin's show, that he hoped someday to replace Regis … and did.

Strahan said Friday that "I don't really get excited about many things, because every day is a continuous cycle of interesting stuff, but this is unlike anything else."

He will leave Canton, Ohio, and return to his fabulous and fascinating life. But to hear Strahan speak is to listen to a man who truly appreciates how wild and crazy it's all been. And it's fun to listen to someone like that.