- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- Michael Strahan retired after helping the New York Giants win the Super Bowl six years ago, going out a champion even though he says he was still capable of playing. Though some have imagined a similar ending for quarterback Peyton Manning should he lead the Denver Broncos to victory in Super Bowl XLVIII this Sunday, Strahan doesn't foresee it.
"He shouldn't. Have you seen the way he's playing?" Strahan said Tuesday. "I think we all would feel cheated if, win or lose, Peyton decided to stop playing, because we'd be saying, 'Think what we all missed.'"
Strahan said he takes pride in his belief that he was productive and excellent right up until the end of his career.
"No one looked at the end of my career and said, 'He should give money back. He's not earning it anymore,'" said Strahan, who is a finalist in Saturday's Pro Football Hall of Fame election. "When your heart's not in it, that's when you have to go. My heart quit before my body did. That's why I decided it was time. If [Manning's] heart is still in it, then I'm sure he'll keep playing."
Manning said as much Sunday when asked whether he was considering that this could be his final game, but he has also said his final decision rests on the results of a postseason physical that includes an examination of his surgically repaired neck. Regardless, you can put Strahan in the camp that doesn't think Manning needs to win Sunday to cement his place in NFL history.
"When it's all over, I think we need to realize we may be looking at the greatest ever to play the game," Strahan said. "Maybe he doesn't have the rings that [Joe] Montana has, or my man [Terry] Bradshaw, or even [Tom] Brady. But I think everything else he's done is pretty remarkable."