NEW ORLEANS -- Michael Strahan could be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, and two of his most prized pupils believe that’s where he belongs.
“Is that even a question if he’s going to get in?” Osi Umenyiora asked this week. “He better get in or there’s going to be some furniture moving.”
Justin Tuck was similarly certain.
“If (his name) is not called, it will be a black gloom day for the NFL,” Tuck said. “I don’t see how he’s not a shoo-in for a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.”
Strahan played for the Giants from 1993-2007. He is the franchise leader in games played (216) and sacks (141.5), as well as the NFL’s single-season sacks record-holder with 22.5 in 2001. Strahan was a four-time first-team All-Pro: 1997, 1998, 2001 and 2003. He was the 2001 NFL AP Defensive Player of the Year. Strahan was selected to seven Pro Bowls. Only four Giants have been selected to more Pro Bowls and all are Hall of Famers: linebackers Lawrence Taylor (10) and Harry Carson (9), offensive tackle Rosie Brown (9) and cornerback Emlen Tunnell (8).
“When I think of Michael, I think of the combination of athletic skills, endurance, strength, the ability to play the game at a very high level for a very long time,” said Tom Coughlin, who coached Strahan from 2004 to 2007. “Plus he’s intelligent and he provided a player that young people could look at for how they study and prepare, how they practiced full-speed and then how they played the game.”
He often made players around him better, but Tuck joked that he “might have made me worse.”
“I was like ‘Oh, I can do this!’” Tuck said of watching Strahan play and assuming anyone could perform at that level. “The guy, early in my career here ,he really took me under his wing and kind of showed me the ropes, not only on the football field but off, how to be successful in a place like New York … He knows -- and I have no remorse, I continue to tell him -- that the reason I’ve been successful in this league is because of his tutelage and his guidance.”
“The way he played year in and year out, longevity, his 15-year career, winning the Super Bowl,” Umenyiora said. “He’s one of the greatest defensive players – not just defensive ends – to ever play. To this day I’ve never seen a guy play the way he played. He was literally beating offensive linemen up. It was truly amazing to see. He’s the greatest defensive end I’ve ever seen play, no question.”