Broadcasting & Cable reported yesterday that former Giants DE and current NFL on Fox studio analyst Michael Strahan has been tapped to become Kelly Ripa's permanent co-host on Live With Kelly. After Regis Philbin's retirement in late 2011, the show had seen an array of guest co-hosts with Ripa, including Strahan. Last month, it was reported that Strahan was one of three finalists for the permanent job along with Seth Meyers and Josh Groban. Strahan has been noted for his chemistry with Ripa and personality that's seen him quickly become the media star his former Giants teammate Tiki Barber failed to be. Maybe that's poetic justice for Strahan after Barber publicly threw him under the bus 10 years ago. Let's be real, it was this striptease in front of Channing Tatum that obviously won Strahan the job.
Four years ago when Strahan retired, who would have thought he would make the most successful crossover athlete into the mainstream media? A closer look reveals Strahan's rise to Live With Kelly co-host isn't as surprising as it first appears...
Once upon a time, Strahan was the gap toothed Giants DE whose most notable foray into the media was this April Fools Day prank with Tom Arnold on the Best Damn Sports Show Period. Wrestling with Rosanne's ex is a long way from sitting next to Kelly Ripa every weekday morning for retired ladies that love their daytime television.
At first, the news that Michael Strahan is the next Regis Philbin blows the mind. Just imagine Steve Nash being the next host of The Price Is Right or Jared Allen taking the place of Anderson Cooper. As Tiki Barber and even Erin Andrews discovered, the jump from sports media to everyday media is a difficult one (though Josh Elliott and Robin Roberts have made something of an ESPN to GMA pipeline). Ever since his playing career ended, Strahan seemed destined to be an NFL analyst. His job as an NFL on Fox studio analyst came about almost immediately after his retirement. Given Strahan's career as a player, a career as an NFL analyst was a mere formality and the looser atmosphere on the Fox set was a perfect fit for him.
Then I got to thinking - Strahan has quietly always been branching out from football into mainstream opportunities. He hosted a show called Backyard Stadiums on the DIY Network and Pros vs Joes on Spike. He made a cameo on NBC's Chuck. It's easy to forget this, but Strahan even had his own Fox sitcom, Brothers! It's easy to forget because the show flopped and only lasted one season. Hey, at least it was better than Outsourced.
Perhaps most of all though, Strahan has proven to be marketable. Subway, Dr. Pepper, Vaseline, Right Guard, Snickers. All these companies have used Strahan as a pitch man for a reason - he has crossover appeal. After various odd jobs in sitcoms, commercials, and hosting gigs he's clearly found his niche sitting next to Kelly Ripa every weekday morning. The Broadcasting & Cable report says Strahan will stay with Fox NFL Sunday while working in New York during the week. Strahan's future may be brightest outside of football though. As long as he stays away from sending nasty Twitter DMs to followers, he should have a lengthy, successful career in the business.
I worked with Strahan on some videos and not only was he friendly, personable and amenable to whatever we threw at him, his work ethic was unparalleled. It was sweltering out and when we were running over, he graciously volunteered to stay an extra few hours to make sure we had what we need and that we did it right. All at no cost. Best of all, he was just a nice guy.