GLENDALE, Ariz. – The roughest stretch of Michael Strahan's recent rough stretch is open to debate and not lacking for contenders.
There was the time his ex-wife, Jean, insinuated he was gay during their divorce proceedings (she later backed off). There was the divorce itself, which, thanks to quite possibly the worst prenuptial agreement ever, Strahan was forced to pay 70 percent of his assets, about $15.3 million.
And for sheer bottom-feeding humiliation, there was the yard sale Jean held hawking all sorts of the New York Giants defensive end's belongings, like his television.
"I get to cheer for Mike on his own TV," yard sale customer Jamal Calloway told the New York Daily News last summer.
Calloway also bought Strahan's microwave oven: "They say Mike warmed up croissants in this microwave; now when I warm up my croissants, I know a champion ate breakfast from the same machine."
This is funny, even to Strahan. At least it is now, when he knows his television will be showing he and his teammates play the New England Patriots on Sunday in the Super Bowl.
"I don't stress over too much," he laughed. "Hey, everyday is a good day for me, so it's no difference."
Really, what's he going to say? Strahan's divorce was about as bad as it gets, he then skipped training camp and returned to the Giants only to start the season 0-2.
"I thought, 'You know, that beach sounds good,' " he said.
But he picked up the pieces, went to work with a smile and now at age 36, here he was Tuesday at an unexpected Super Bowl media day. It's an annual theater of the absurd with bimbo television personalities, gag interviews and this time some woman trying to marry Tom Brady. And the occasional football talk.
Essentially, this is just the live microphone Strahan lives for.
"You've got to have fun with this," he said.
After a revitalized season on the field, why not? Strahan's bank account may still sport scars from the divorce, but he doesn't seem to. Here in his second Super Bowl, perhaps on the brink of retirement, the legendary defensive lineman is soaking up every last moment of fun.
The Giants landed in Arizona late Monday afternoon. Within four or five hours, Strahan had led a parade of teammates (and even owner Steve Tisch) to the trendy Scottsdale nightclub Six for some, shall we say, mingling.
By Tuesday afternoon, Strahan was the star of an entertaining hour of back and forth with the media. He spoke on subjects ranging from football to faith, from divorce to dentistry, from sacks to singing. He did imitations of both Alicia Keyes and Rocky Balboa.
You never knew where this was headed, one liner after one liner making up a pretty good show.
"Who has the best gap teeth? Sponge Bob, he has us all (beat)."
"I love Tom (Brady) but if my momma was back there, I'd try to knock her out."
On what would have happened to Lawrence Tynes if he hadn't made the final kick against Green Bay: "We play in New Jersey and we're known for certain things. It might have been, 'Who's Lawrence Tynes?' "
"I love snitzel."
"I'll picture Tom Brady in red heels."
"If I was trying to impress (a date) I wouldn't take (her) to the Super Bowl. You've got to get a chance to stare into my gap teeth; we'd have to go to a restaurant."
His spacious smile was a big topic; serving as either a defense mechanism or just something he knows is good for some laughs.
He claims the ladies love it. "Entertainment Tonight" showed up with no less than one of the "Deal or No Deal" models and she agreed. Of course, host Kevin Frazier then gave Strahan a trophy for some reason and then noted, "That's the one you get to keep, she can't take half of that."
In the end, the jokes always come back to the divorce. Strahan can only laugh along at this point. For reasons unknown to anyone, he signed a prenup that required him to give his wife 20 percent of his earnings each year they were married and then, if they were divorced, an additional half of their assets.
The couple lasted less than four years – Jean charged in court papers that Michael had too many women staring into those teeth, you could say – and when the judge finally calculated it all, she got more of the $22 million than she even asked for. ("Wife: 15,000,000, Strahan: 0" read the Daily News.) And that's on top of the $18,000 a month in child support and the loss of the 22,000-square foot house with the 20-car garage.
Not to mention his TV and croissant-warming microwave.
Tuesday, Strahan just smiled at it all, smiled at this crazy year. He wishes Jean the best. That's life, he kept saying, you can't let it get you down. He was having fun with his teammates and even his once robotic coach, Tom Coughlin. Life is too good to dwell on the negatives.
The Giants are the underdogs here, nothing to lose, nothing but laughs.
"I'm trying not to dream about it," he said of winning a championship ring. "But I really, really want it."
And that's one he'd get to keep; the whole thing even.