Seizing the moment
Strahan quickly getting back into public's good graces
Posted: Thursday January 31, 2008 12:47PM; Updated: Thursday January 31, 2008 1:18PM
PHOENIX -- Michael Strahan knows how to make love to the camera without being cued.
Say hello to Japan, a reporter asked him on Tuesday. Strahan had already cocked his head toward the lens and flashed a familiar gap-toothed grin that he fancies as more SpongeBob SquarePants than David Letterman of WorldWide Pants.
"All the gap-toothed people stick together," he joked.
Surely, Tokyo was smitten by this steamy dental talk. How about all the lovely ladies stateside?
What starlet would he like to impress by leaving her Super Bowl tickets at the will-call window, asked a reporter of the E! variety. "If I'm trying to impress you, I'm not going to bring you to a Super Bowl," Strahan said with a voice containing a hint of Barry White.
Who is this McLovin in Giant blue? Strahan has morphed into Bachelor No. 1 amid his clever Dating Game with the public. He wants his audience -- and every TV producer with a job opening this side of Tiki Barber -- to love him madly should his grand Giants career end in victory or loss against the Patriots on Sunday.
If slipped truth serum, he'd tell you he wants to live on in the lighting he craves, in the Bentley lifestyle he is accustomed to, with a gig he can enjoy without waking with his body feeling as if it had been starched overnight.
He is not alone in this pursuit. More than the NBA and Major League Baseball, the NFL seems especially stocked with players wanting work in retirement. It's a numbers thing, in some ways. More players, more need.
But the NFL is also a league with few guaranteed deals, brutally short careers and high turnover rates. And with team systems and gladiator uniforms designed for anonymity, players have to fight -- and sometimes woof -- against the homogeny to distinguish themselves on the field.
There is a reason the jawing has escalated between players and celebrations have grown more elaborate and defenders preen on even the most pedestrian tackles: To be seen is to be relevant in today's NFL.
To be heard is even better. So the Super Bowl week provides the perfect set for the chatty charm offensive by Strahan, who is in the right place at the right time to assemble what is essentially an audition tape for his football afterlife.
"There are cameras everywhere," said Howie Long, who remains in the public eye 15 years after his retirement as a part of Fox's NFL coverage. "The NFL is a built-in publicist."
And a good publicist makes an even better revisionist.