For fifteen years, Michael Strahan terrorized quarterbacks. His wide grin, hidden by a New York Giants helmet, often preceded a bone-crushing tackle. But since his retirement in 2008, Strahan’s smile has greeted viewers of Live! with Kelly and Michael, Good Morning America! and, on Sunday, football fans on Fox. He’s since branched out, designing a clothing line for men and boys for J.C. Penney and hosting ABC’s The $100,000 Pyramid, all while raising four very different children.
What is your name?
Retired professional football player with too many jobs.
How old are your children?
25, 22, and twins, who are 12.
What are their names?
From oldest to youngest, Tanita, Michael, Isabella, Sophia.
Are they named after anyone in particular?
Tanita, no. Michael is named after me. Isabella and Sophia’s middle names are their grandmother’s middle names, Marie and Louise.
Do you have any nicknames for your kids?
No, not really. I don’t. Everyone is called by their name. I guess because I was called by so many nicknames when I was growing up like B.O.B. (for Booty on Back) that I don’t like that.
No, what do your kids call you?
They call me Dad and I love that. I’m not one of those kind of guys. With my dad, I still say, “Yes Sir.”
All the time. The twins are with me in New York now. My oldest two are in Texas. My son just graduated college last month and is going back for another degree in communications. My daughter is an artist and lives in Houston. We are all taking a family trip to South Africa at the end of this month.
Describe yourself as a father in three words.
Fun, understanding, authority-figure.
Describe your own father in three words.
Caring, inclusive, and military.
But, not military in a bad way. He was a very structured man, in a sense that he woke up, he was a soldier and did what he had to do. But, he wouldn’t take trips if his kids couldn’t go. We used to go to Lake Caspe in Spain every year to go fishing with him. He’d drive all the way from Germany, where he was stationed.
What would you say your strengths as a father are?
Being an example is definitely a strength. Understanding my kids and being open to them and their knowledge is a strength. I can tell you about hard work, but if I can’t show you then it’s a totally different thing. I can tell you about compassion and understanding, but if I can’t show you, you don’t get it.
What do you think are some of your weaknesses as a father?
My biggest weakness is that I wish I had more time to spend with them. Other than I that I’m pretty damn good.
What is your favorite activity to do with your children?
Travel. To let them know that the world is bigger than the community they live in. My twins and my son love to ride in cars with the top down and feel the wind in their hair. My older daughter loves art. If I like something she’s done on Instagram, she’ll send it
What has been the moment you are most proud of as a father?
It depends with each kid. When my daughter graduated from college and now as my son graduates from college. For the twins, who are equestrians, just to see them win medals, knowing how hard they work at it. It is a better feeling for me to see them with that than it was for me to win the Super Bowl. But the moment I am most proud of with Tanita is when she graduated from college and she had some jobs set up in New York. She called me and said, ‘Dad, I don’t think I am ready for New York.’ I could only imagine how much strength it took to have her tell me something like that. I really respected it.
What heirloom did your father give to you that you value?
I have an old black-and-white photograph of my father back from 1961, ten years before I was born. He was an all-army boxer. In this photograph, he’s in his boxing stance and he signed it James Strahan, France 1961. As far as other things like a watch, my dad is still alive. I’m not getting that anytime soon according to him.
What is the one heirloom you want to leave your children?
We have four kids and it is kind of hard to figure that out. But I just had to make a will. Through the process, I realized I don’t want to saddle them with the houses or the cars. That bogs them down and I want them to have a fresh start. I’d rather give them small things that mean a lot to me. So my son gets the Super Bowl ring and the twins split the Hall of Fame Ring. My eldest daughter doesn’t care about football. I had a ticket to the Super Bowl this year. Tanita said said give the ticket to someone who would appreciate it.
What’s the “Dad special”?
Take out for dinner. I’m a breakfast man. I can do bacon to perfection.The secret it patience. You don’t just throw it in a hot pan.
Are you religious and are you raising your kids in that tradition?
My dad was a pastor in Germany. I am, myself, religious. I can’t say I’m in church every Sunday. but when I played football every Sunday I was definitely at our chapel service. Now, I am working every Sunday at Fox so it is kind of out the window in that regard. I am guy who has faith and I read my verses for the day every morning. I am believer and so are my kids.
What’s a mistake you made growing up that you don’t want your kids to make?
When I was a kid, I tried to make mistakes and my dad wouldn’t let me. I tried to quit football my freshman year in college and he wouldn’t let me. Every time I wouldn’t believe in myself he wouldn’t let me. But the one mistake I think I made that I wouldn’t let my kids make is probably relationships. When you are divorced and you think about wanting to have everyone together in your life, that’s not really in my cards.
How do you make sure you let your kids know you love them?
I flat out tell them. I’m not afraid to express that I love them. It’s funny because my dad learned that later in life. But now, he’s like, “I love you, son.” Now he can’t say it enough and neither can I.