Talk of Fame Network
CANTON, Ohio — Michael Strahan’s in the Hall of Fame because he was a superior pass rusher who, it just so happens, holds the league record for most sacks in one season. But this just in: He was more than that. He was a complete player who insists he enjoyed playing the run more than he liked rushing the quarterback … and take that, Warren Sapp.
Sapp, inducted into the Hall of Fame last year, made headlines when he first suggested that former teammate Simeon Rice — a pass-rush specialist — was more worthy of the Hall than Strahan because he rushed the quarterback better. But those in the game knew better because they knew Strahan was a two-way player who stayed on the field.
And Rice? Well, not so much.
Strahan addressed neither Rice nor Sapp Friday, but he did talk about himself — and what he said underscores why he’s here, elected in only his second year of eligibility, and why Warren Sapp is no one’s personnel director.
“I actually loved playing the run more than I loved rushing the quarterback,” he said. “That’s a fact. I loved the physicality of it. I loved the fact that here’s a guy (an offensive tackle) who’s 100 pounds more than me, and there’s no way I’m supposed to beat him. But if I’m smart … if I use leverage … if I get off the ball quicker … if I’ve studied him enough to know him better than he knows himself … I can be in the backfield and make a play. (And I can) get up and look and have a 350-pound guy on the ground, and stand over his guy like, “Then what?” If you ever want to feel like Superman that’s a great way to do it.”
Strahan plays Superman this weekend, the biggest draw in a Hall of Fame class that includes one of the greatest left tackles (Walter Jones), one of the most complete linebackers (Derrick Brooks) and the game’s best punter (Ray Guy). But it’s Strahan, now a star on ABC-TV, who has the biggest Q score, something not lost on spectators waiting outside the Hall of Fame Friday for a glimpse of their favorite player … or on the guests who had their photographs taken with him at Thursday night’s dinner.
Apparently, it’s not lost on friends, either. When Strahan recently ran into former roommate Keith Elias, he said Elias told his wife — a Strahan fan — that he was going to Canton to see Strahan inducted into the Hall. Her response: “He played football?” She didn’t know.
If she did, she’d understand he was something more, something better, than the football player Warren Sapp described. He was a complete player who belongs with the game’s best … and not because he only rushed the quarterback.
“It’s a shame that you have a guy whose says, ‘I’m a pass-rushing specialist; I’m a pass rusher,’ ” said Strahan. “I hate that. If you’re a defensive end you’re a defensive end. You don’t come off the field. You don’t come off in special situations. You stay there and play football. Football’s about doing it all. I just took so much pride in never having to leave the field (and) never having another guy come on and do the job I should have felt I was capable of doing. I felt like a defensive end and not a specialist.”