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When it came down to it, Michael Strahan knew he made the right decision this time. Almost a year after debating whether to return before doing so and helping lead the Giants to a third Super Bowl win, the 15-year veteran finally decided that it was really time to get out retiring at the age of 36 yesterday.
Drafted as an unknown defensive end out of Texas Southern in the second round back in 1993, all Strahan did was become the all-time leading franchise sack leader passing Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor last yearÂ with nine sacks to finish a brilliant career with 141.5. While nobody would ever dare compare the Houston, Texas native with the gap toothed wide grin to LT, he certainly wasn’t no slouch becoming of the best defensive players of his time ranking fifth on the all-time sack list.
ThatÂ heÂ did it withÂ the same team is pretty impressive in this day and age when leavingÂ via free agency is fairly common. The 6-5, 255-pound DE hadÂ dangerous outside speed and could get to opposing quarterbacks with ease. Who can ever forget that memorable 2001 season when he broke the single-season sack record with an assist from Brett FavreÂ in the final gameÂ toÂ finish with 22.5 sacks? Okay. MaybeÂ it was moreÂ the Green Bay QB who alsoÂ coincidentallyÂ retired even though you never quite can tell with him.
Aside from a tainted record, No.92Â received plenty of attention from opposing linesÂ frequently drawing double teams which freed up other pass rushers such asÂ emerging star Osi Umenyiora. The leading candidate to help replace him is Justin Tuck, who finished with 10.0 sacks last year. A healthy Mathias Kiwanuka should help smooth the transition as well for the NFL’s leading pass rush.
Still, you know the Giants will miss Strahan’s presence on the field and in the locker room.
â€œHe did a lot for the young players,â€ Super Bowl winning Giant coach Tom Coughlin expressed to reporters yesterday.
â€œHe knew how to perform, he knew how to practice, he knew how to play. It has been an honor to coach Michael Strahan.â€
Though Big Blue pulled off one of the biggest upsets in SB history defeating the Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII at Arizona, Strahan still considered returning but then soon realized he had accomplished everything he possibly could.
“Then reality set in, and I asked myself, â€˜Do I really want to be committed to working out and training?â€â€™Â the seven-time Pro BowlerÂ explained.
â€œI said no. Physically, Iâ€™m fine. But it takes so much to play this game. This isnâ€™t a game where you can take a farewell tour.â€
For a diehard Big Blue fan like myself, I have nothing but admiration for how Strahan cameback from a career threatening injury and performed helping lead the team on an amazing run last January in which they defeated the higher seeded Bucs, upset the Cowboys, Packers and then stopped the unbeaten Patriots who were being compared to the greatest NFL teams.
â€œI donâ€™t think you need a ring to fulfill your career, but when you donâ€™t have one, you justify to yourself that you donâ€™t need it,â€ Strahan said. â€œThen, when you get one, youâ€™re like, â€˜Thereâ€™s no way I could have left without it.â€â€™
Next stop. Canton, Ohio.