It is either the perfect time for the Giants to retire Michael Strahan’s jersey. Or, it is about a decade overdue.
Or, as Strahan thinks, it’s both.
The Giants will retire No. 92 during a halftime ceremony Sunday — 5,046 days after his last game when he led a Super Bowl XLII upset of the then-undefeated Patriots. Since then, no one has worn the number — an unaware Leonard Williams asked once and was denied — and Strahan has become an entertainment megastar ticketed on a flight into outer space. But it became clear Tuesday that the wait for this moment is a sore spot.
“I would have honestly expected it a long time ago,” Strahan, a member of the charter Giants’ Ring of Honor class in 2010, said. “I’ve been in the [Pro Football] Hall of Fame for seven years now. All of the things that I did with the Giants, I would have expected it a little bit sooner.
“But things come in the time in which they’re meant to come and not at the time in which you want them to come sometimes. That’s the way I’m looking at it. I don’t want it to look as if I’m ungrateful or I’m not honored by it, because I truly am.”
It’s fitting the Eagles will be on the opposing sideline, because Strahan thrived on tormenting Philadelphia fans. He had 21.5 of his 141.5 career sacks (No. 6 all-time) in the rivalry and ended a 1999 meeting with an interception return for a touchdown in overtime.
But there is real concern that Eagles fans — optimistic about a two-game winning streak — might invade MetLife Stadium as frustrated Giants fans sell off tickets. That home-stadium takeover— a scenario played out many times over the years on both sides — could lead to awkward booing during Strahan’s celebration.
“The Giants could retire my jersey in Philly. It doesn’t bother me,” Strahan said. “I’m used to Eagles fans. If there are Eagles fans there booing, that’s what I want them to do because if they are not booing, it means I wasn’t very good at my job.
“If any team knows, it’s the Eagles. The most sacks I’ve ever had of any quarterback from any team is theirs, so if they boo, it’s an honor. I’ll take it as that. I always loved playing the Philadelphia Eagles. They were always good for a few sacks a game.”
There was booing the last time the Giants retired a number. Eli Manning gestured for Giants fans to back off owner John Mara at the start of the two-time Super Bowl MVP’s ceremony on Sept. 26. The plan for Sunday calls for radio announcer Bob Papa to introduce Strahan — as he did for the 2011 Super Bowl championship team during their halftime celebration on Oct. 17 — and for ownership to be part of the ceremony.
“There is no city like New York City,” Strahan said. “This is the best place in the world to be, best place in the world to play, best place in the world to have success.”
Strahan is the rare athlete who retired on his terms, off a championship, when he still was productive.
“I definitely know that if we don’t win that Super Bowl, my life is different,” Strahan said. “If we didn’t win that Super Bowl, maybe I come back the next year. Who knows?”
Strahan, an NFL on FOX pregame co-host, said he has played golf in the offseason with Giants quarterback Daniel Jones and receiver Sterling Shepard, but mostly keeps a distance from the team nowadays. He admits to getting frustrated “like every other fan” at the state of the Giants, who are headed for a fifth straight losing record.
“We need to find a way to get back to where we are to be competitive to the point where you’re going to a game and you’re like, ‘OK!’ ” Strahan said. “The thing is there are so many games that we’ve lost literally … [at the] last second or on the penalty or on things like that, that completely changed the season for this team. I just want the team to understand that they are not far off. At the same time, when you’re losing, don’t look around and blame anybody. Don’t wait for somebody to rescue you.”
Credit: Notigroup Newsroom.
[This article may have been written with information from various sources]