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Michael Strahan ‘didn’t anticipate’ bidding Kelly Ripa, ‘Live’ goodbye, he says on final show

Michael Strahan: I don't miss 'Live'

Ending the most improbable second act for a Hall of Fame defensive end in history, Michael Strahan left “Live With Kelly and Michael” Friday morning for an even more improbable third act this fall, as co-anchor of “Good Morning America.”

He and co-host Kelly Ripa walked out at the beginning of the program, joked about the date — yes, it is Friday the 13th — then he said:

“It’s bittersweet. Of course, you get nervous like this. I’ve done this for four years. So this is a moment that I didn’t anticipate — being here at least at this point — but it’s here and we’re gonna enjoy it. I’m not dying. I’m still in the family, and I’m still available to come back if I’m ever called to co-host.” He added, “I don’t like a big to-do about it. I think that we come out here every morning, and do the host chat, we make people laugh. We do what we’ve got to do. I think that’s what we need to do right now . . . let’s have fun and get on with our show.”

He joked (“I’m not dying”). Kelly laughed. They both laughed. Just like old times.

(Awkward? Nah: They’ve done this together for four years. They know the routine.)

As “Live” shows go, Strahan’s last edition proceeded mostly like the thousand (or so) that came before. There was a “favorite moments” clip real. First guest Matt Bomer came out to “thank Michael for helping the great unrequited love of my life, Kelly Ripa, do this so well. You always conduct yourself with great intelligence and grace and we wish you all the best.” Next guest, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, didn’t even mention the elephant in the room.

There was another clip reel that served to remind viewers why Strahan has succeeded so well here — a willingness to do just about anything, invariably anything in costume, or wig, or tights. (The Halloween shows were audience favorites.) Another clip included the day No. 92 was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

That reel concluded with a series of on-screen cards that read: “Farewell. Good luck. Keep smiling.”

Afterward, current host and ex-host hugged. It certainly looked sincere.

Finally, there were gifts (photo album, bronzed high heels — the ones he wore on one of those Halloween editions). Strahan’s last signoff followed, directing comments to the camera: “Very bittersweet for me. I just want to say thank you to everybody. It’s amazing you come here and you guys have let me into your homes the last four years every day. And I didn’t know what to expect coming from sports to daytime television — and you guys opened up your hearts to me and you opened up your homes to me. It’s been so overwhelming with the response that we’ve had over the last four years that you guys love this show. It means the world that you give us an hour of your day. And, what you don’t realize, we get more from that hour than you really do.”

A few more words, then one last hug with Ripa: “I love you, baby,” he said. And with that, the drama ends.

Strahan leaves a hugely successful show that never expected him to leave. Perhaps he never expected to leave either. Strahan broke the news himself to the show’s surprised staff and co-star, Kelly Ripa, moments after the April 19 edition. The news release followed shortly after.

Ripa — per reports which she has since confirmed — was enraged, then took a “sickout” the rest of the week. The daytime talk show feud of the year (so far) was born — and ABC had apparently bungled the most important transition of the year, too. Strahan and Ripa have resumed their genial on-air camaraderie over the past two weeks. But that may also be what’s called “acting.”

In fact, Ripa has since said her differences lay with ABC, not Strahan. In an interview with People posted online Wednesday, she said: “I’m not dealing with monsters. I don’t think of anybody as a monster or out to get me. But sometimes stability and dependability can be misinterpreted as passive. Like, ‘Oh, we don’t have to worry about her, she’s fine. She’s fine.’ When you’re dealing with big business, it’s easy to forget that you’re dealing with people and that people have feelings.”

Strahan, who has been a part-time contributor and correspondent on “GMA” the past couple of years, will increase his appearances there over the summer, then begin full-time in September. By that point, “Today” will have almost certainly resumed the morning leadership position it ceded to “GMA” almost exactly four years ago, thanks to the tail wind from the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. One of Strahan’s first tasks will be to help wrest back the crown.

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