MMQB Mailbag: Millions of reasons for Strahan to play, plus popcorn
Play, Michael, play.
Here's how I look at the story of whether Michael Strahan will come out of retirement. If he decides to play, he'd be committing to one season without training camp for $8 million. Plus, my educated guess is he'd be able to stay on in some capacity at FOX, maybe doing something part-time during the season and through the playoffs for another mil.
Five months (only four football ones if the Giants don't make the playoffs), $9 million. Hard to beat that.
And maybe 400 plays for that $8 million. I doubt the Giants -- at least at first -- would install Strahan as an every-down defensive end. He'd likely be a nickel rusher, playing 20 to 30 snaps a game. Now, one of Strahan's strengths (Jon Runyan has always thought this was the most underrated part of his game) was playing the run, and I'm sure he would want to play on first and second downs. Maybe eventually he would. But maybe the Giants would say, "Let's be smart about using him, and not risk injury by trying to get 60 plays out of a guy who hasn't been in football shape for eight months.'' He came through last year incredibly healthy, feeling as good as he had after a season in years. That's why I think he'd have a good chance of making it through 17 weeks this year. He's an anotomical freak.
Plus there's the riding-in-on-the-white-horse factor. Strahan likes his teammates, and feels an obligation to help them in some ways, and he likes the life and the attention of being a New York star.
Would he tick off the FOX execs who paid him a reported $2.2 million per year to join the set on the Sunday pregame show? Probably. But that's the risk you take in TV with the Favres and the Strahans, guys who stay in great shape and may be tempted to play again. I saw Strahan earlier this month at Cowboy camp in California, and there's no question he's in great shape, eating right and not drinking.
He could play if he wants to, and that's what he's thinking about today as he vacations in Greece. I think if you gave him sodium pentathol he'd admit he really doesn't want to play because of the toll these years have taken on his body, and he's interested in starting his second profession. But I also think there's something energizing about an exhilarating detour such as this one. He likes money, he likes the challenge, and he likes the pressure of coming in and trying to save the Giants' playoff hopes just a week before they open their Super Bowl defense.
Having said that, I don't mean to imply that he'll play. I've texted him but haven't heard back, and so I don't know which way he's leaning. I just think it's a good idea.
A clarification from MMQB regarding Mike Nolan's comments on his quarterbacks, particularly starter J.T. O'Sullivan and backup Alex Smith. "Thus far,'' I quote Nolan as saying, "J.T.'s been better than the other two, and there hasn't really been much of a gray area. His play's been better at the position than what we've had at any point in the last three years.''
Nolan disputed the second part of the quote Monday, saying he meant the play of all three quarterbacks, including Shaun Hill, has been the best since he's been the coach.
Nolan and I spoke this morning. When I interviewed him, I was at Cleveland Browns' camp, in a noisy place. Could I have misheard him and written down "his play's been better'' instead of "their play's been better'' in his comments? I doubt it, but amidst the hubbub where I was, it is possible. The bigger point is that, in our conversation, he was complimentary toward Smith. His comments were not about how great O'Sullivan was and how bad Smith was -- not at all. He told me he likes how Smith has played this summer. If I have any regret, especially given the hypersensitivity of the story in the Bay Area -- Smith, after all, was the first pick in the draft three years ago and has had a disappointing start to his career, to put it mildly -- it is that I should have conveyed that this was not a case of Smith losing the job, but rather a case of O'Sullivan winning it, and backing that up with Nolan saying good things about Smith.
There's no question the pick of Smith, in hindsight, looks like a terrible one. Especially since the first pick in the draft gets beaten out by sixth-round pick from UC-Davis. But for this year, the bottom line is Nolan thinks Sullivan backed up by Smith and Hill gives him the best quarterback situation he's had since he's been the coach there.