Giants' Michael Strahan earns nod for Canton
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Maybe it was worth the wait. Maybe being a second-ballot Hall of Famer isn't so bad for Michael Strahan if it means being elected in the city where he played his entire 15-year career, where he has found celebrity and success after football, and in his adopted hometown.
"Everything is better in New York," Strahan, 42, said after being named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2014. The announcement was made at the NFL Honors show at Radio City Music Hall on Saturday night, less than 24 hours before kickoff for Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.
Many believed that Strahan, one of the most dominant defensive ends of his era, should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer last year. He reached double-digit sack totals six times in a nine-year span, including 22 1/2 sacks in 2001, an NFL single-season record. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro who finished his 15-year career with 141 1/2 sacks.
And now he gets to wear his new title.
"Football changed my life, period, and now I'm sure this will definitely change my life as well," he said. "I just think about being recognized as one of the best that's ever played in the greatest sport in our country, and being respected for the way that you played it. That in itself changes my life."
"Maybe not for anybody else, but it does for me, and that's very important to me."
It is the second year in a row that a Giant will be immortalized in Canton. Former Giants coach Bill Parcells was inducted last year.
Strahan is the 20th inductee to have spent at least a significant portion of his career with the Giants.
"I remember the first day I walked into the locker room like it was yesterday," Strahan said. "Mr. [Wellington] Mara, Lawrence Taylor -- Harry Carson was already gone, but I remember the first time I met him. Frank Gifford -- the first time I met those guys, I learned more about the history of the Giants. And now to be included with the great players in the history of the NFL, going in as a New York Giant, it's unbelievable."
"He was one of the greatest players in franchise history," said John Mara, the team's co-owner and president. "Without him, there's no way we would have won Super Bowl XLII. Not only was he a huge part of that team because of his play on the field, he was the leader of that defense . . . Very few people played the position as well as he did, particularly because he played the run as well as being a great pass rusher. He was a leader and a great player and I'm delighted that he is going to his rightful place in Canton."
Added Giants chairman and co-owner Steve Tisch: "I think the Hall is a better place now that Michael Strahan is going to be there."
Strahan said he was glad to hear about his election shortly before the announcement.
"It gives you a chance to kind of take it in, and I had a chance to call my parents and let them hear it from me," he said. "Whenever I received an award when I was playing, I was only really happy when I could share it with them. I can't wait to have them in Canton. This makes it special and this is their award. They're in the Hall of Fame with me."
Strahan said he has an idea of who will present him in Canton this summer. Beyond that, he's still wrapping his mind around the newest accolade.
"I don't know what's going to happen from here on out," he said. "I guess we'll see everything that hits. It's one of those things that's overwhelming at first. But once the Super Bowl is over and once I have a chance to sit back and reflect, and have some time off to think about it, then I think all of the emotions are really going to hit me."