By Florence Mafomemeh
What an honor! What a way to retire a jersey! It was Sunday November 28 at Metlife Stadium where the NY Giants retired Michael Strahan’s jersey No. 92 during a game in which they shut out their divisional rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles.
During halftime of the Giants’ 13-7 win, amidst thunderous cheering from the stands, the sack master, who has stayed loyal to the team since he hung up his cleats 2007, ran out of the tunnel with his muscles flexed and low-fived a line of former teammates dressed in No. 92 jerseys, including Eli Manning whose No.10 jersey was also retired on Sept. 26.
In his five-minute address to the crowd, he thanked Giants ownership and was optimistic about the future of the team. “I’ve got to say this: Every team has their ups and downs,” Strahan said amidst light booing aimed at the team’s owners – John Mara and Steve Tisch seated on the dais. “But the New York Giants have won Super Bowls. There are teams that never have. Appreciate what you got. We will be back! We will be up again! I guarantee you that!” Strahan said. Mara was loudly booed when he introduced the Super Bowl Champion.
Former teammate Jessie Armstead and coach Tom Coughlin unveiled a framed No. 92 jersey, which hasn’t been issued since Strahan’s wrapped up his Hall of Fame career after the legendary Super Bowl XLII upset of the undefeated Patriots. Strahan, who was a captain on the Giants’ 2007 Super Bowl XLII team, was part of the inaugural 2010 class into the Giants’ Ring of Honor, honored underneath the top deck at the stadium. It’s fitting to say Strahan’s last tackle of his career was a six-yard sack of Tom Brady in the third quarter of Superbowl XLII.
Strahan said retiring his jersey doesn’t mean that he’s done. “To be here today does not mean my journey is over,” Strahan said. “It just means my journey in a uniform is complete. I want to thank you for taking a 15-year journey. I love you, New York Giants fans.”
Strahan, who is one of the football’s most dominant pass-rushers during his 15 seasons with the New York Giants, also thanked his coach and teammates. “I want to thank all my teammates because I stand up here, but I stand on your shoulders. “You guys made me better as a player, you made me better as a leader, you made me better as a man. Coach Coughlin, I can’t thank you enough. Completely changed my life. I almost came out here five minutes late just to piss him off.”
Giants’ owners – John Mara and Steve Tisch praised Strahan for being a great Giant. “Michael Strahan was one of the greatest players in franchise history,” said John Mara, the Giants president and chief executive officer. “He deserves to have his number retired as other Giants immortals have, including Mel Hein, Frank Gifford and Lawrence Taylor.”
Steve Tisch, Giants chairman and executive vice president said Strahan was a Hall of Fame player and he is a Hall of Fame person. “Only the very best players get their jerseys retired and Michael is in that category in Giants history and NFL history, as well. He was the consummate defensive end, a team captain and a winner who helped lead us to the greatest victory in our history in Super Bowl XLII.” Tish said. The two retirements will increase to 12 the jersey numbers that will never again be worn by Giants players.
In the morning of September 1, 2021 when the Giants announced they would retire Strahan’s No. 92 jersey in November, he had missed it. So, Eli Manning, accompanied by his former Giants teammates, Justin Tuck and Jesse Armstead surprised the now ‘Good Morning America’ co-host with the news by jumping out of boxes on the show’s set. Manning and Tuck were Strahan’s teammates when Big Blue took down the undefeated New England Patriots in the greatest upset in Super Bowl history. Armstead was Strahan’s teammate earlier in his career. They played in Super Bowl XXXV together where the Giants lost to the Baltimore Ravens.
Strahan joined the Giants as a second-round draft choice in 1993 – No. 40 overall – but he was the first selection that year for the team, which did not have a first-round pick. He joins Manning, Simms and Hein as the only players in franchise history to wear a Giants uniform for at least 15 seasons. Strahan’s 216 regular-season games played are second in Giants history to Manning’s 236. The sack master also holds the Giants’ postseason record with 9.5 sacks and was credited with 868 regular-season tackles.
Strahan, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2001 when he had 22 1/2 sacks to set the NFL single-season record that still stands as the most ever in a single season. During his 15-year career with the Giants, he racked up 141 1/2 career sacks that rank him sixth in NFL history behind Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Kevin Greene, Julius Peppers and Chris Doleman. The Giants legend spent his entire career with the team and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.
The former defensive end joined the FOX NFL Sunday crew soon after retiring from the NFL. A few years later, he was named co-host of ABC’s Live! with Kelly and Michael. Strahan would go on to win two Daytime Emmys for “Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host” while in this role. In 2016, Strahan joined ABC’s Good Morning America full-time. He has also served as the host of ABC’s $100,000 Pyramid since 2016.
Wondering why Jesse Armstead unlike every other former Giants player in the stadium wore instead No.64 with Strahan’s name at the back? Strahan said it was the jersey number he was given but he traded it in for No. 92.
“That was the number they gave me, and after my first time being in the newspaper here in New York, I looked at the picture and said, ‘That’s an ugly number,’” Strahan said. “So, I went in the locker room and got No. 92.”
It happens that Strahan’s No. 92 was retired on the day the Giants played against the Eagles whose QB he sacked the most. The Giants defense shut out the Eagles to crown it all with a big bang.