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Strahan: Troubled stars, Pros vs. Joes and more

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Alex Marvez

Alex Marvez is a Senior NFL Writer for FOXSports.com. He has covered the NFL for the past 18 seasons as a beat writer and is the former president of the Pro Football Writers of America. He also is a frequent host on Sirius XM NFL Radio.

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He's no longer a pro, but he isn't a Joe either. That's what makes retired New York Giants defensive end and FOX NFL Sunday analyst Michael Strahan such a great fit as co-host of the new season of Pros vs. Joes. Along with fellow FOX Sports NFL analyst Jay Glazer, Strahan helps moderate the athletic competition between former professional athletes and wanna-be amateurs. The show airs at 11 p.m. Mondays on Spike TV. In the following telephone interview conducted last week, Strahan gives his thoughts on Pros vs. Joes as well as such hot topics as the NFL status of controversial figures Michael Vick, Adam "Pacman" Jones, Plaxico Burress ... and don't forget T.O., of course. MARVEZ: "What was the biggest thing that surprised you about Pros vs. Joes?" STRAHAN: "How competitive it was and the quality of guys we had. Pacman Jones, Simeon Rice, Alonzo Mourning, Antoine Walker, Robert Horry ... These are guys right out of the league. They still have the desire and passion. You can see some of the guys are hoping to get back into the league. But you can also see what the Joes are putting out and some of the events are so close it's actually kind of scary." MARVEZ: "You referred to some athletes who may be struggling to make the transition to retirement. How have you handled it and do you have any advice for players whose NFL careers are ending?" STRAHAN: "Find something else you like to do. When I retired from the NFL, I didn't think I would be sitting home doing nothing. Retirement is about relaxing. At our age, it doesn't work that way. You can't shut it off, especially when you've been working every day and you've been on a schedule for so long. It's impossible. "I bump into so many guys who all of a sudden want to get into broadcasting, acting or some other kind of business. If you're not prepping while you're playing, it's really hard to say, 'OK, someone give me a job. I'm ready to do it.' Most players don't prepare for that because they think football is never going to end. They don't know how to take the next step and get onto the other parts of their life. Fortunately, it did happen for me." MARVEZ: "You had a chance to come out of retirement last year and play for the New York Giants. In retrospect, was staying retired the right thing for you?" STRAHAN: "Yeah, without a doubt. There were definitely days where I said I would love to come back for one more season. But I look at it like there are a lot of great things happening for me now. I'm enjoying my life more. I miss the players, the coaches and the guys you're around every day. I don't miss the beatings." MARVEZ: "Pacman Jones was one of the participants on Pros vs. Joes. What was it like working with him and do you think he has an NFL future?" STRAHAN: "I expected to get a guy I wouldn't like and I ended up liking the guy. I thought he was great on the show. He really has a presence about him. As a player, he's definitely talented. He's a real competitor and you saw that on the show. He should have a future in the NFL. Even with all the stuff in his past and his release by the Cowboys, I hope he gets another opportunity to prove he's not like everybody says he is. I like him, but my opinion doesn't guarantee him a job." MARVEZ: "You made some headlines at a NASCAR race recently when talking about Arizona wide receiver Anquan Boldin and his contract situation. You were quoted as saying, 'I know he's not happy, but complaining about it in the press really doesn't help you ... Playing in Arizona's not so bad. He could be with T.O. (Terrell Owens) in Buffalo. It's colder up there.' Can you elaborate on why you think Boldin shouldn't be taking his grievance public?"

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STRAHAN: "What's so funny about that is that it makes me sound like I'm telling Anquan to shut up. That's not how I said it. I know Anquan is a great guy and a hell of a player. My message was more about the situation and trying to handle this behind closed doors. Going public is not going to put any more pressure on the team. Really, it becomes a staring contest where the team doesn't want to back down because they think it's going to reflect badly on them. The player doesn't want to back down either, but the team has the leverage as long as he has a contract. He would be better served being a good soldier and handling this behind the scenes. If he wants out, maybe then they'd be more willing to do so." MARVEZ: "If you were Roger Goodell, what would you do with Michael Vick?" STRAHAN: "I'd let Michael Vick get out of prison. Show me you've made legitimate changes and would be willing to do more. You're going to have to prove yourself to the whole freaking world. I look at the Vick situation as being so much bigger than the NFL. The way people are going to look at this case, you almost feel like he's in a no-win situation. There are going to be protests and all those things wherever he signs. Michael Vick could go out and do some of the greatest things mankind has ever seen and I still don't know if it would be good enough for people not to protest his getting a job in the NFL. If he gets out of prison and shows he's definitely sorry for what he did and is doing the right things, he should get a chance. Why not try to make a living at something he's great at?" MARVEZ: "Where do you think the New York Giants are in the race for Super Bowl XLIV and how would you assess their offseason?" STRAHAN: "The Giants are definitely in the mix. I think their offseason has been good. I think the Giants learned one thing from [Super Bowl XLII] and that's why they beefed up their D-line. They can get after any great quarterback with Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard, Osi (Umenyiora), (Justin) Tuck and (Mathias) Kiwanuka. They drafted a big wide receiver, although there's always a question mark whether a rookie at that position can help you. They're trying to capitalize on the window they have now. The Giants realize it's closing and are trying to beef up for a run."
MARVEZ: "When you played with former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, could you have seen his off-field problems coming and what do you think the chances are he gets his act together?" STRAHAN: "I've had the opportunity to talk with him. He's catching a lot of crap from people, but I get the feeling he's going to get things back together. He just has to handle his legal issue and find somebody who is willing to give him an opportunity and he'll be fine. He's not a bad guy. He's a good guy. I just hate to see his talent go to waste." MARVEZ: "How think the Terrell Owens experiment will go in Buffalo?" STRAHAN: "(Laughs) Do you mean an experiment by Buffalo or T.O.? Look, T.O. is one of the most talented wide receivers in history and the game today. When he got released by Dallas, regardless of whether he said he had offers from other teams, he took a one-year deal with Buffalo. You're not going to take that type offer if you have all these other teams interested. This sent a message to a lot of people about what can happen if you're not acting right and think you're bigger than the team no matter how talented you are. If you find one team that likes you, great. But a lot of other teams seem to be showing that they aren't going to put up with anybody's mess because of talent." MARVEZ: How many of today's players do you think really understand what's going with the current CBA situation? STRAHAN: "Very few. Their feeling is whatever happens, happens. Guys are worried more about playing than anything else. The (NFLPA) player reps are great at relaying the information, but most of the guys don't listen. When they have the meetings, it's, 'How soon can we get out of here?' " MARVEZ: "Finally, what's the best and worst part about working with Jay Glazer on Pros vs. Joes?" STRAHAN: "The best part is that Glaze has been my best friend for 16 years. The worst part? Glaze has been my best friend for 16 years."
Tagged: Bills, Giants, Cardinals, Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress, Terrell Owens, Rocky Bernard, Anquan Boldin, Chris Canty

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