Michael Strahan is going into the Hall of Fame Saturday night, but he's not sure he could crack the lineup of defensive ends who have followed him with the Giants.
"These guys are so talented, I don't know if I would have started [with them]," Strahan told reporters in Canton, Ohio, Friday, a day before his enshrinement ceremony. "If you look at Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul and myself, I'm No. 4 . . . I'm No. 4, believe me. Talent-wise and looking at what these guys can do, I'm No. 4 easily."
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Perhaps that is why Strahan is being enshrined. It wasn't his talent that made him great, it was his desire to squeeze every drop out of the talent. That's what sent him to seven Pro Bowls, made him an All-Pro four times and helped him set the NFL's single-season sack record with 22 1/2 in 2001, a mark that still stands.
He also bridged the gap in Giants history between Super Bowl eras, playing alongside Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor early in his career and arching all the way to the team's improbable win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
Since then, an entire segment of the population has come to know Strahan not as a football player and one of the Giants' best defensive players ever but as a television personality who hosts awards shows and morning programs with charming aplomb.
Those newer fans might be shocked if they could see the ferocity Strahan was known for on the field.
"I loved playing the run more than rushing after the quarterback," he told reporters. "That is a fact. I loved the fact that the other guy was 100 pounds bigger than me and no way I'm supposed to beat him. But if I'm strong, I use leverage, if I get off the ball quicker, if I studied him enough to know him better than he knows himself, I can get in the backfield and make a play and get up and look and there is a 350-pound guy on the ground and I'm standing over his guy like, 'Guess what?'
"If you want to feel like Superman," Strahan said, "that is a great way to do it."