Michael Strahan shows skills in debut with Kelly Ripa on 'Live! With Kelly'

Former Giants player Michael Strahan at The 26th

Former Giants player Michael Strahan at The 26th Annual Sports Spectacular The Hyatt Regency Hotel Century City in Los Angeles, Calif. Strahan was officially named co-host of "Live!" beside Kelly Ripa. (Credit: AP File, 2011)

Verne Gay

Verne Gay Verne Gay

Gay is the television critic.

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Michael Strahan? Michael STRAHAN!? Don't worry, people. Number 92 should be just fine on "Live! with Kelly," rechristened as of Tuesday, "Live! With Kelly & Michael."

Sure, a former star Giants defensive end may seem like a weird, otherworldly, or (at the very least) counterintuitive choice to replace Regis Philbin. But what worked on the field should work here as well -- the speed, guile, charisma, agility and will.

Let's not forget that mouth, too, or sheer force of personality that, along with 52 other players, helped the Giants win a Super Bowl in 2008.

Tuesday morning's "host chat" -- the signature element of "Live" and what must succeed if this unorthodox choice is to succeed -- provided clues of strengths and weaknesses. A possible Achilles' heel is Strahan's pop culture knowledge. Kelly Ripa handed him an easy comeback when she said her husband's favorite pet name for her is "Boo." In response, he mumbled something else instead of the more obvious, "Honey Boo Boo?" -- referring to cable TV's currently hot pint-size star. Call it a minor missed opportunity.

But the rest went well. Something popped loudly off-screen. "I don't know who's doing that but stop it," he barked. Earlier he thanked Ripa with this: "You know you could say this is a dream come true [but] I didn't even know I could dream this."

The oohs and ahhs from the audience suggested he had them in the palms of his big smashmouth hands.

Strahan started out on the right foot -- actually both feet. Running onto the set, he swept Ripa up in his arms, later quipping that "I almost lost all my tough points -- I almost cried."

All tough points were irretrievably lost by show's end when he performed a balancing act with an egg. But that's OK, Mike. "Tough" isn't essential on "Live!" "Funny" is, along with "fast" and "smart." And while we're at it, don't forget to laugh at Kelly's jokes. That should also help make this TV marriage a long and happy one.