Thursday, November 07, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Michael Strahan: A Football Life (2013) ***

TV-PG, 47 min.
Featuring: Michael Strahan, Gene Strahan, Louise Strahan, Jay Glazer, Kelly Ripa, Tom Coughlin, Howie Long

During a season like the New York Football Giants are having this year, a fan like me needs specials like “Michael Strahan: A Football Life” to keep us going. It allows us to remember better times. It reminds us of the passion we hold for a game that has become a punishment of late. And, it shows us that everything comes around.

Of all the players and coaches featured on the NFL Network series “A Football Life”, Michael Strahan’s was one of the last I would’ve expected to have the central theme of fear, but it seems fear has driven Strahan to become everything that he has throughout his life. From a dominating and record-breaking defensive end in professional football, to daytime talk show host, which surprisingly seems to have fulfilled a long time dream of his.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought that Michael Strahan was about one of the strangest choices you could think of as a replacement for Regis Philbin on the longest running nationally syndicated daytime talk show. That’s not because Strahan doesn’t have the fun loving personality and charisma necessary for such a post, but why would he want to? One thing that this documentary special shows us is that he does want to, even after colleagues like his co-host on “FOX NFL Sunday”, Howie Long, make fun of him for some of the “unmanly” things he has to do there.

It isn’t as hard to understand Strahan’s fear after learning that he grew up as the youngest of six children in a military family stationed in Germany. It’s also easy to understand where his drive to fight that fear away at all coasts came from. He had to in order to keep up in such a family. His parents, while obviously good people and parents, don’t seem the types to dole out any favors for the boy just because he was the youngest. He tells the story of a $1200 bike he wanted, for which he mowed lawns to earn half of the money for it in order to fulfill the deal he made with his father. Once he got it, it was too big for him. He didn’t care. It was his. He’d earned it.

For anyone who is familiar with the football career of Strahan, you know that he earned a great deal during his 15 years with the New York Football Giants. He earned the all time single season sack record. He earned defensive end of the year twice. He earned a Super Bowl Ring, on his second trip to the big game. And, he earned the respect of and respect for a man that he initially hated in Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.

“A Football Life” covers all of these achievements as well as his broadcasting and early life. The only aspect of Strahan’s life it is really lacking in is his own family life. It eschews his first failed marriage, and includes little about his two children from that marriage. But these docs are made to celebrate the men of the game. So you really can’t expect them to rock the boat too much.

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