The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014 gets inducted on Saturday. Shutdown Corner will profile the seven new Hall of Famers this week, looking at each of their careers and their impact on the game.
New York Giants, 1993-2007
While Strahan's most impressive individual accomplishment is the single-season sacks record of 22.5 set in 2001, we all know that it comes with a bit of an asterisk after Brett Favre took it upon himself to run a play nobody had called, roll Strahan's way and lay down to give him the record.
That doesn't diminish Strahan's great season, but we'll pick a different moment.
In Super Bowl XLII, the Patriots took a 14-10 lead late in the game. Strahan, who like the rest of the Giants' defensive line had played tremendously that evening, gave the offense an unforgettable, goosebump-inducing pep talk on the sideline.
"17-14 is the final, OK?" Strahan said. "17-14 fellas. One touchdown, and we are world champions. Believe it, and it will happen!"
And it did happen. The Giants scored in the final seconds, and Strahan finally had his Super Bowl championship. That turned out to be his last NFL game.
Impact on the game
Strahan wasn't the first player to dominate a game as a pass rusher, but he was one of the best. His 141.5 career sacks is fifth all-time. He was also part of a championship team whose strength was the defensive line and its ability to generate a pass rush. The 2007 Giants rekindled the thought that a team built around its defensive line can win a title in an offensive-happy league ... it's just not so easy to find a player like Strahan to anchor the line.
Strahan has had another impact after retirement. He has become a mainstream star, parlaying his fame and personality into a hosting role on "Live! with Kelly and Michael," a morning talk show he appears on with Kelly Ripa. Millions of daytime television viewers who never watch NFL football know who Strahan is through his show. In that way, Strahan has shown other players a way to reinvent themselves after retirement.
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Case against his bust in Canton
If you don't think Strahan belongs in Canton, your name is probably Warren Sapp. Or, you really dislike "Live! with Kelly and Michael." Sapp's main argument seems to be that Strahan's single-season sack record is a fraud (again, it doesn't erase everything else he did that season) and that Strahan struggled early in his career and he didn't take off until he moved over to left defensive end and started taking on weaker right tackles.
It's a ridiculous argument based on a personal feud, but if you're making a case against Strahan, that's probably your best shot.
Case for his bust in Canton
Anyone with 141.5 career sacks has a good case. Strahan was named first-team All-Pro four times, won defensive player of the year in 2001 and was named to the All-Decade Team for the 2000s, so clearly he was not just a compiler.
Strahan was one of the dominant players in the game during his peak. His first double-digit sack season and Pro Bowl berth was 1997, and his final double-digit sack season and Pro Bowl was 2005. That's a long stretch of great football. He was one of the best defensive ends in the game's history.
"My goals when I first started were just to make a little money so I didn’t have to move back in my parents’ house. I just didn’t want to live with my parents. That was my goal to try to just make my parents proud, make them happy, play hard and just do the best I could do.” - Strahan, via Giants.com
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