By TOM CANAVAN
AP Sports Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan is looking forward to seeing his No. 92 jersey retired by the New York Giants, and wondering why it took so long.
The never-shy Strahan on Wednesday took a swipe at the team’s ownership for lateness of his jersey retirement; nipped at fans of the rival Philadelphia Eagles; and added he is as frustrated as any Giants fan by the team’s struggles over the past decade.
Strahan, 50, made his comments on a Zoom call arranged by the Giants, who plan to retire his number at halftime of Sunday’s game against the Eagles.
Now a television personality, Strahan played 15 seasons as a defensive lineman for the Giants. He retired after the team beat the previously undefeated New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl in February 2008. He finished with 141 1/2 sacks, fifth all time when he left the game.
Strahan was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.
“All of the things that I did with the Giants, I would have expected it a little bit sooner, but it’s still an honor,” Strahan said of Sunday’s event at MetLife Stadium. “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. I probably would’ve expected it to come a little bit sooner than it did.”
It’s appropriate the Giants are having the ceremony take place in a game against the Eagles. Strahan had 21 1/2 sacks against Philadelphia, his most against any team.
The Eagles (5-6) currently are playing better than the Giants (3-7), so Strahan knows there will be a number of Philadelphia fans at his ceremony, probably booing him. He won’t have it any other way.
“So, if they boo, it’s an honor for me that they’re booing,” Strahan said. “I’ll take it as that. I always loved playing the Philadelphia Eagles. They were always good for a few sacks a game.”
Strahan attends as many Giants games as he can, but he said he distanced himself from the team shortly after his retirement when a player referred to him as one of the team’s leaders. He noted once he stepped away, it was up to the current players then to lead, not him.
The Giants have made the playoffs once, in 2016, since winning their fourth Super Bowl in February 2012. They have had four straight losing seasons and a fifth is a distinct possibility.
“Do I watch every game as if I am still playing and the biggest fan of the Giants? Absolutely,” Strahan said. “Do I get frustrated like every other fan out there? Absolutely. Do I look at it and think that I could get off my couch sometimes and go play and help the team? Absolutely.”
Strahan said he plays golf with quarterback Daniel Jones and receiver Sterling Shepard during the summer. He also said he would help any current Giant who sought his advice.
Looking back at his career, Strahan said winning that Super Bowl 17-14 was the highlight. He added he might have played another season if the Giants had lost the game.
Strahan learned early that things he said can quickly become headlines. As a rookie, he said he wanted to have 10 sacks. It was tabloid news the next day. He finished with 4 1/2 in a season in which he missed four games with a foot injury. He learned — and never talked about season goals again.
Working as a co-host with “Good Morning America,” Strahan said his experiences as player with reporters helped him develop his interviewing skills and taught him to be a good listener. It also taught him to respect the industry.
“The one thing I learned (in) journalism is my job is to report the news, not be the news,” he said.
Strahan did have some advice for the current Giants.
“Don’t wait for somebody to rescue you because no one feels sorry for you in this league when you’re losing,” he said. “Nobody’s going to come rescue you. You’ve just got to go to work and rescue yourself. That would be my message to them.”
Strahan’s football career not only helped him get on television. He is going to space in a couple of weeks on a Blue Origin flight run by the company headed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Strahan will join Laura Shepard Churchley, the eldest daughter of late astronaut Alan Shepard, and four paying customers on Dec. 9 on a 10-minute mission.
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