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Back on track

Former Pro Bowler Strahan rises above the turmoil

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Posted: Thursday January 25, 2001 12:22 AM
Updated: Thursday January 25, 2001 12:48 AM

  Michael Strahan The Giants' Michael Strahan dominated opponents in 2000 with 9.5 sacks and 66 tackles. AP

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- A year after signing one of the biggest contracts for a defensive player in NFL history, Michael Strahan is starting to play like one of the best again.

Forget last year. Forget about the accusations of being another athlete who got the big money and went on vacation. Forget about his off-the-field run-in with New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel.

Strahan is not only back on his game heading into the Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens, he has dominated opponents in two playoffs games with three sacks, six tackles and a forced fumble.

Last year was a learning experience for the 29-year-old defensive end. After being picked for two consecutive Pro Bowls, he signed a $32 million contract, which included a $12 million signing bonus.

But his season was disappointing. His sack total dipped from 15.5 to 5.0 and his tackles fell to 56, down 11.

 
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That wasn't the main problem, though. With Fassel away burying his mother, Strahan took the opportunity to publicly complain about New York's struggling offense.

Media criticism followed, and Strahan didn't help things by going into a shell, even though he had a lot of excuses.

All season he played with wrist and thumb injuries that required postseason surgery. He also was bothered by elbow, leg, back, knee and shoulder problems.

Strahan never made excuses, fearing many would feel he was "soft" after getting a big contract.

"You want to excel and do more to prove you are worth it," Strahan said. "A lot of guys have more pride than you probably give them credit for. We want to prove we are worth everything we get. I am one of those guys."

Strahan insists he hasn't picked up his game for the playoffs. He has been playing the same way all year and he intends to play that way against Ravens tackle Harry Swayne in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

"I have given up worrying about personal stuff," Strahan said. "I don't care to be the media darling. I don't care to be on the front page of the paper. I don't care about any trophy or accolades. I just want a ring, and being unselfish is the only way you're going to get it."


 
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