Friday, August 1, 2014
Hall weekend 'overwhelming' for Strahan
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
Michael Strahan is back to feeling like a rookie during Hall of Fame weekend.
CANTON, Ohio -- It's not easy to impress Michael Strahan, whose post-football life is basically a traveling theme park. But this weekend he's spending here being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame ... this is getting it done.
"I don't really get excited about many things, because every day is a continuous cycle of interesting stuff," the former New York Giants defensive end said Friday afternoon, hours before putting on his gold Hall of Fame jacket for the first time. "But this is unlike anything else."
To name a few of the things in Strahan's head when he says something like that, the Giants' all-time sacks leader is currently the co-host of Fox's Sunday NFL pregame show as well as "Live with Kelly and Michael" and, on occasion, "Good Morning America." He has been a pitchman for submarine sandwiches and men's skin care products, among other things. He hosted Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards this year. He is a huge, world-famous star -- by far the biggest and best-known of any in this year's Hall of Fame class. Yet on Friday, he felt like an awed rookie all over again.
"You can't buy your way in here. You can't trick anybody into getting you in here. You can't bribe your way in here," Strahan said. "This is something you truly have to earn. And you're here with guys you watched play football when you were growing up, and now you're in the same room with those guys? It's overwhelming."
Friday afternoon brought the Nitschke luncheon, to which all of the current Hall of Famers wear their gold jackets, but the class of 2014 wears light blue polo shirts. The newbies aren't supposed to talk during the Nitschke luncheon -- just listen to the wisdom of the men who've been enshrined in years past. They have to accept being the butt of their jokes, and hearing their stories again even if they've heard them before.
"You've got to humble yourself," Strahan said. "Because everybody here has had their moment. This has nothing to do with TV now or what you do outside of this. This is what you did for those 15 years, and these guys are here for what they did on the field."
Strahan said it's an especially proud weekend for him because it's about football, and there are people who know who he is but don't even realize he played football. He told a story about former teammate Keith Elias, who told his wife he'd be seeing Strahan this weekend because he's going into the Hall of Fame. Elias' wife responded, "He played football?"
"It's cool, because it means that I've done something right, and I view it as a compliment," Strahan said. "But I appreciate that people recognize the football stuff, because that was such a big part of what I was, and I wouldn't have what I have now if it hadn't been for football. I'm very realistic about that."
Friday night Strahan gets his jacket. ("The biggest thing for me is going to be not sleeping in it. That's going to be the biggest challenge.") Saturday, he gets to unveil his bronze bust and make his acceptance speech. And as the night's biggest star, he gets to be the last of its seven speakers.
"I know I'm not going to be the first one to cry, because I'm going to be the last one to speak," he joked Friday.
For Strahan and his fellow 2014 Hall of Famers, the whirlwind weekend was just beginning. But the experience already had his attention in a special way. And with Michael Strahan, that's no small feat.