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Michael Strahan, whose number will be retired, remains an icon for current Giants players

Defensive end Michael Strahan #92 of the New

Defensive end Michael Strahan #92 of the New York Giants reacts after sacking quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots in the third quarter during Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 in Glendale, Arizona.  Credit: Getty Images/Elsa

Leonard Williams took part in a seminar with other NFL players and professional athletes in Denver in the offseason to start looking ahead and thinking about his career after football. One of the guest speakers was Michael Strahan.

Strahan was not there in person to address the audience, though.

He was doing it virtually. From a private jet.

"It was a little bit of motivation for everybody, you know?" Williams said. "Like we want to be on a private jet FaceTiming one day. I think that’s what people love about Michael Strahan . . . He’s obviously a legend on the field, but I think that’s what makes him such a guy [to look up to] is what he’s done off the field as well."

The Giants officially will retire Strahan’s No. 92 jersey at a halftime ceremony on Sunday during the game against the Eagles. It will honor him as a player who gave 15 years to the Giants, helped them reach two Super Bowls and win one, made seven Pro Bowls and was a four-time first-team All-Pro, set the NFL single-season sack record that still stands with 22.5 in 2001, and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

And while the current players respect those accomplishments, when they look at Strahan, they don’t try to measure up to him as a player. It’s his post-football life that they admire and hope to someday achieve for themselves. The TV shows. The commercials. The exposure. The money. The opportunities.

"I heard he’s going to space now or something like that?" defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence asked of Strahan’s recently announced excursion that is scheduled to take place on Dec. 9 and certainly dwarfs even the private jet in terms of swag. "Seeing how successful he is off the field, it’s inspiring . . . To live that type of lifestyle, a lot of people want to live like that."

Asked if he’d like to someday follow Strahan into space, Lawrence said: "Sure, I’d check it out. Float around a little bit."

The fact that they play in New York certainly brings Williams and Lawrence one step closer to the aspirationsbeing lived out by Strahan, who understands he owes at least part of his post-Giants career to having played in this market.

"Being in New York and being a Giant, you have no choice but either you sink or you swim," Strahan said this past week. "You adapt to it or you don’t, and I adapted to, I guess, what was required of me to play here. It did bring out a lot of my personality because it was almost forced out of me. But there is no city like New York City. This is the best place in the world to be, best place in the world to play. It’s the best place in the world to have success . . . I truly understand that not playing in New York, maybe my life is a lot different than it is right now, so I’m grateful."

What they don’t have — and what Strahan didn’t have until his last game — is a championship.

"That Super Bowl was pretty much one of the biggest things to ever happen to me," he said of the Giants’ win over the previously unbeaten Patriots to cap the 2007 season. "I definitely know that if we don’t win that Super Bowl, my life is different. I don’t think that I’m going to sit here and fool you and go, ‘No, I’m still going to have the same life.’ No, winning that Super Bowl, especially in the fashion we did it, against the team that we did it against with that record that they had, definitely put me in a different light to a lot of people, which has led to an incredible life."

Strahan remains very much a part of the current Giants teams even though he hasn’t played a down for them since February 2008. Every home game at MetLife Stadium features a hype of his revving up the crowd . . . and the players.

"He has the ultimate stamp on us," Lawrence said. "He doesn’t have to say much or come around much. But as a defensive lineman, you don’t want to be disappointing to him or to all of the legends who have played here. His presence is always here."

It’s something the Giants are trying to live up to as players . . . and beyond.

No one will get

Tootle’s No. 92

No one will ever again wear No. 92 for the Giants after Michael Strahan’s jersey is retired on Sunday.

Strangely enough, hardly anyone wore it before it was issued to Strahan as a rookie second-round pick in 1993, either.

In fact, were it not for the 1987 NFL players’ strike, Strahan very well might have been both the first and last player to don the number.

According to team and league records, the only other person in the now- 97-year history of the organization to wear 92 was Jeff Tootle, a linebacker who appeared in three games for the team as a replacement player during that 1987 work stoppage.

It was such a flash-in-the-pan event that when reached for possible comment about having worn the number that now will be retired, Tootle told Newsday he thought he had worn No. 90 during that brief stint in the NFL (photographs, video and official rosters clearly contradict his recollections).

So while he isn’t technically the only No. 92 in Giants history, Strahan might be satisfied to learn he is the only one who remembers wearing it. — TOM ROCK

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