PHOENIX – Tom Brady famously quarterbacked his teams to seven Super Bowl victories, a singular achievement noted early and often in stories when he announced his retirement from the NFL last week at age 45.
But Brady admitted to at least one of his conquerors that he would trade some of those titles to reverse the Giants' victory against New England in Super Bowl XLII 15 years ago. The loss cost the Patriots a unique 19-0 season.
"I love Tom. Tom's a great friend," Strahan said. "Congrats on his retirement. What an incredible career. And Tom told me, he said, 'I would give up a few Super Bowls for that one, because that was special.' Undefeated season, however many games they would've won, it would've been unbelievable."
The Giants denied them a huge slice of history and not even seven rings can assuage Brady's misery over that 17-14 defeat. Strahan and his defensive linemates sacked Brady five times, hit and harassed him all day, and held New England to 23 fewer points than its regular-season average. The Patriots left Arizona forever saddled with a far less gaudy 18-1 record.
Strahan this week has returned to the city of his greatest triumph – in the final game of his 15-year Hall of Fame career – as a member of FOX's broadcast team. Among his many post-football entertainment ventures, Strahan has been part of the FOX NFL Sunday pregame show since 2008. FOX is broadcasting Sunday's Super Bowl LVII game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs.
Strahan was a 2014 Hall of Fame inductee, and one of the 30 original members of the Giants' Ring of Honor. His No. 92 jersey was retired by the organization in 2021. Strahan was recently honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
View iconic photos from the Giants' Super Bowl XLII victory over the undefeated Patriots.
During FOX's media availability, Strahan spoke on a wide range of subjects in an hour-long meeting with reporters.
*On returning to Arizona 15 years after the Giants' epic upset of the Patriots on Feb. 3, 2008:
"It's fantastic," Strahan said. "I'm looking forward to going to the stadium. Maybe I'll put some grass in a jar or something and take it back home with me. One of the greatest memories of my professional life is being here in this stadium, the confetti is falling, it's for the Giants. We beat a team that was unbeatable that year. I'm excited to be back. I'm going to have a smile on my face."
*On his greatest Super Bowl memory:
"Winning, the confetti falling, knowing the game was over," Strahan said. "Eli (Manning), David Tyree, getting a sack, watching Tom Brady scream at his offensive line when (defensive ends) Osi (Umenyiora) and (Justin) Tuck were hitting him. Just the whole, everything. The week before, watching Tom Coughlin eat an In-N-Out burger after practice one day. It was the little things like the jokes and the laughter and the bus rides and obviously the game. So many memories, it's hard to have one favorite."
*On whether he had much verbal interaction with Brady in that Super Bowl:
"No, not really," Strahan said. "He was just yelling and cursing out his O-line and slamming the ball down. He didn't have a chance to talk much. He was busy talking to his guys. We've had a lot of time to talk since then."
*On the Giants' 38-35 loss to the Patriots in the regular-season finale in Giants Stadium:
"It was a confidence builder," Strahan said. "We knew if we were to see them again at some point, which would only be in the Super Bowl, that we could beat them. I think going into that game, a lot of people didn't have confidence in us. A lot of people said, 'They're undefeated. They beat the Giants.' We didn't do anything special in our gameplan because we were already in the playoffs. We just showed up, we lined up and we went man-to-man to see what happened. We almost beat them. That last game of the season is what helped us beat them in the Super Bowl. Had we not played them, we would've gone in thinking, 'They've beaten everybody. This team is unstoppable.' But they weren't."
*One play from Super Bowl XLII that stands out:
"Obviously, Eli getting out of a sack and Tyree catching the ball on his helmet – two of the most unlikely guys to do that. I think that was the point where I was like, 'Okay, this has been a very special year. If they can do that, then we're going to win the game.' That was before Plaxico (Burress) caught the touchdown because those plays can't end in a bad story. Just couldn't. Thank goodness it didn't."
*What's up with the Giants?
"The Giants are going to be okay," Strahan said. "They're figuring it out – new coach, new everything. And I think watching them play against the Eagles – getting beat – let them know how far they need to go to get to the point that they can get to that level. I think they learned a good lesson and had a season that exceeded all expectations."
*On general manager Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll (a nominee for NFL Coach of the Year):
"I spend a lot of time with those two, and first of all, incredible guys," Strahan said. "I think they've built a culture of people that care. And the guys appreciate them for that, and the guys are willing to work hard for them. And they're honest, and I think that's the biggest thing. … To know what those two have brought to New York in a one-year period shows me that their future is really going to be bright under these two. They're great talent evaluators, and I think they're going to work it out and hopefully for New York, I'll be doing one of these (Super Bowl interviews) and we'll be talking about the Giants."
*On Daniel Jones:
"I thought what he did last year was fantastic," Strahan said. "He put the team on his back at times when he needed to… I think he has the right temperament. I didn't think I'd meet anybody or see anybody who's more quiet than Eli Manning when he played, and Daniel Jones has accomplished that. He's done that…I love Daniel."
*On Saquon Barkley (a nominee for NFL Comeback Player of the Year):
"The guy had an incredible year. You can see that Daniel Jones is better with him. The team is better with him in there. He's a leader in every single way."
*On Kayvon Thibodeaux:
"I love Kayvon as well," Strahan said. "I saw a little bit later in the season, he was pass rushing a little more instinctively, based off just being free and not thinking about the technique of it all…He got better, and I think the future is bright for him. I think he's the type of player who you can definitely build a defense around – between him and (defensive linemen) Dexter Lawrence and (Leonard) Williams in the middle. I think they have a good nucleus of a potentially great defensive line."
*On Steve Spagnuolo, the Giants' defensive coordinator when they won Super Bowl XLII and is now in the same position with the Chiefs:
"Spags is my guy," Strahan said. "I love Steve Spagnuolo. He changed my life. He was a brilliant coordinator. And the things he would see and incorporate into the gameplan that you couldn't see as a player, and I watched a lot of film, he would just do things that you'd go, 'How did you see that?' He's all about winning. He's all about not only winning but making sure that the guys understand that he appreciated them.
"The year we won the Super Bowl, we were getting our butts kicked. We gave up 80 points in two games, and we come into the meeting and what do you expect? Your boss is going to yell at you, tell you you suck. When you don't get it done, find someone who can. And he did the opposite – he came in and he said, 'Stick with the plan. I wouldn't trade any of you for anyone else.' Then when he did that, all of a sudden it was like, 'Man you really want to play for this guy.' This guy believes in us even though the success isn't there right now. And we turned it around. And he's a catalyst for that."
*On the ability of the defensive fronts of the Chiefs and Eagles to take control of the Super Bowl:
"Obviously, being a defensive lineman I'm biased," Strahan said. "But we all know defense wins games. It's no secret. Anytime you shut somebody out, it's not because they're dropping balls or throwing dead passes. It's because the guy gets hit, and he doesn't like it. And the best pass defense is a pass rush. If you can stop the run, if you can rush the passer, the other team doesn't have a chance. As much as they love to talk about how great quarterbacks are, I have yet to meet a quarterback who likes to get hit. And if you're a great defense, you can do all those things. And I'm a defensive guy, obviously I'm going to say that. It's the truth."
Q: Would he have a harder time with Jalen Hurts or Patrick Mahomes?
"I would have a harder time with Hurts I think because of his ability to run the ball," Strahan said. "It's not that Mahomes can't run. He's shifty. But with the ankle, you think of that a little bit. But Hurts is more involved in the run game. So, sometimes maybe a run, maybe a pass. It's a little bit more guess work for you on the defensive side of the ball. It's a little bit more difficult to figure out how to attack."
*On Brady joining FOX as an analyst (beginning in 2024):
"Tom Brady and I are on the same team," Strahan said. "I'm looking forward to seeing Tom and having him around and listening to him call games and just see him excel in another facet of the sports world. What an incredible career. I'm happy for him and everything he's done – seven rings. … This guy has seen more football than anybody in the league. I mean, he's 45 years old. I had already retired nine years before I hit 45. I think his knowledge of the game, his knowledge of offenses and his knowledge of defenses and just his ability to be able to express that so that the audience at home easily understands that, I think that's what he's going to bring to the booth."
*Would Strahan like to team with Brady to do a Manningcast-type broadcast as Peyton and Eli Manning do on Monday Night Football?
"I'm not doing the Manningcast, nothing like that," Strahan said. "I'm more of a traditional football commentator. I love my guys. I really don't understand, get it. I'm old school. I'm listening to (John) Madden. I like the traditional 'come at me straight.' And I watch the game differently than someone at home would watch it. I love Eli, but I don't need to see Eli and Peyton's faces while I'm watching a football game."
*On the Empire State Building being lit up green after the Eagles won the NFC championship:
"When it comes to the Empire State Building, I think whoever did that should probably look for another job," Strahan said. "That's just flat out disrespectful. I don't remember us winning the Super Bowl or going to the Super Bowl and Philly lighting up blue. It didn't happen. It's called the 'City of Brotherly Love,' but it's not. Let's not try to adopt something that they don't even adopt in their name for it. So, no."
View photos of Pro Football Hall of Famer and Giants legend Michael Strahan.