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News » Strahan staying retired for the right reasons

Strahan staying retired for the right reasons

Strahan staying retired for the right reasons
A family vacation to Greece has given Michael Strahan the chance to learn about the origins of Western civilization.

Another type of history lesson convinced Strahan he should stay retired.

As a star New York Giants defensive end the previous 15 years, Strahan knows the level of commitment needed to succeed at a high level. Without it, don't bother.

It's the type of drive that motivates Philadelphia tackle Jon Runyan — Strahan's top on-field rival as a blocker — to continue playing despite a mangled ankle that doesn't allow him to walk down stairs properly.

It's the insatiable love of competition that led Brett Favre to emerge from retirement last month even if it meant leaving Green Bay after 16 seasons.

Fame, fortune and an elusive Super Bowl ring inspire others. Strahan has all three — along with a definitive plan for life after football that too many of today's players lack.

Strahan told FOXSports.com's Jay Glazer that he couldn't commit himself "100 percent physically, mentally and emotionally" to a return. Give Strahan credit for being honest and declining New York's significant financial enticement in light of defensive end Osi Umenyiora's season-ending knee injury.

After not training throughout the offseason, Strahan didn't want to potentially embarrass himself with sub-par play at age 36. He also didn't want to follow in the footsteps of Barry Foster. A standout Pittsburgh Steelers running back in the early 1990s, Foster retired young and then tried a comeback with Cincinnati.

Foster lasted for three days in training camp before quitting and returning a $1.7 million bonus check. That prompted Bengals owner Mike Brown to deadpan, "He came. He saw. He left."

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Not Strahan. He has too much pride and respect for his former teammates to attempt a comeback without the right mindset.

This doesn't mean the Giants are now a better team. Strahan knows better than anyone the keys to success in the rugged NFC East: A stout offensive line and an even stronger pass rush.

In 2007, this was the NFL's only division where each team fielded at least one player with double-digits in sacks. New York (Umenyiora and end Justin Tuck) and Dallas (linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis) had two apiece.

To counter, all four NFC East teams have placed a heavy financial investment on protecting their quarterbacks. The three clubs that made the 2007 playoffs (Dallas, New York and Washington) ranked in the top 12 for fewest sacks allowed. The one that didn't — Philadelphia — finished at No. 27.

Dallas made two major line moves in the 2007 and 2008 offseasons by adding right guard Leonard Davis as a free agent and re-signing left tackle Flozell Adams. Three of Washington's six highest-paid players this season are offensive linemen (guard Randy Thomas and tackles Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen). Philadelphia has one of the league's top guards in Shawn Andrews and solid albeit aging bookends with Runyan and left tackle Tra Thomas.

The Giants were the NFC East's only team that didn't have a Pro Bowl offensive lineman in 2007. But during the offseason, New York's biggest personnel moves were signing right guard Chris Snee and left tackle David Diehl to contract extensions.

The Giants chose not to match the lucrative offers that led to the free-agent departures of defensive players like safety Gibril Wilson and linebackers Kawika Mitchell and Reggie Torbor. It makes sense. While all three were fine contributors, New York's Super Bowl run was spurred by its defensive line.

The Giants tallied an NFL-high 53 sacks during the regular season and were even more ferocious during the playoffs. The trio of Umenyiora, Strahan and Tuck was too much for opponents to handle, especially when the latter was moved inside for mismatches against significantly slower guards.

Now, two of those three components are gone and a quick fix isn't an option. There aren't any quality pass rushers available in free agency or being dangled as trade bait. Jason Taylor would have been an attractive option were Umenyiora hurt a month ago. But he already was snared by Washington in a trade with Miami last month after end Phillip Daniels suffered a season-ending knee injury.

The Giants aren't totally bare at end. Tuck will be joined on the opposite side by Mathias Kiwanuka, who is being converted back from outside linebacker. Free-agent pickup Renaldo Wynn will appear in the rotation, primarily on running downs.

Still, Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo must be even more creative in his blitz packages to bring the same type of heat he did with Umenyiora and Strahan. Spagnuolo also has to worry about Tuck and Kiwanuka being able to hold up over a 16-game season with increased run-stuffing responsibilities.

But these are no longer Strahan's concerns. The book on his future Hall of Fame career is now officially closed. The 2008 Giants will have to write their own chapters without him.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: August 27, 2008

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