"A million people have great personalities, but very few can show it day in and day out, and very few can do it on camera. ... I've been doing this for 30 years and have produced tens of thousands of hours of shows with a lot of different hosts and guests, and my staff and I know what it feels like when it works."
Strahan, who will turn 43 in November, has been a smash ratings hit; he has had even more success replacing Regis as a co-host than he had replacing LT as a pass-rusher, and he has moved into the "Good Morning America" rotation while also keeping his job as a Fox football analyst. He had lunch with Barber not long ago near ABC's studios -- the two had long gotten past their silly in-career squabbles -- and the former running back couldn't get over the stir Strahan caused.
"We're walking back and all these 50-year-old women are screaming at him and running across the street saying, 'Hey Michael, please take a picture with me,'" Barber said. "Ten years ago it was 25-year-old guys in Giants jerseys doing that, but that's the demographic that loves him now."
The Strahans see more of Michael's TV career than they ever saw of his days as a Giant; they were too busy making a difference in faraway corners of the globe. Beyond the humanitarian work in what was Yugoslavia and East Germany, Chris moved to the Netherlands and taught American football to young boys, and has plans to do the same in Serbia. With the help of Victor and his sister Sandra, Chris' non-profit, New York-based Team Strahan Sports, organizes community events for children who can use a break.
"The goodness of our hearts cost us a lot of money overseas," Chris said. "But it would all mean nothing if we didn't continue that path we were on back here."
Gene Sr., old Army paratrooper, set this tone for his family just as his father set the tone for him. Michael has visited wounded American troops in Germany, and given his time to numerous charitable causes closer to home. With Barber as his guest, Michael served as master of ceremonies Sunday night at a Fenway Park benefit for a father of four diagnosed with stage 2 lung cancer.
"He's indefatigable," said Smith, his close friend. "He will work and grind when he doesn't have to. Some wonder why he doesn't coast now that he's made it, but he doesn't see it that way. His work ethic, his discipline, his goal orientation -- his dad instilled those values. Stray attributes the positives in his life to being around his dad."
At 77, Gene Strahan gets to live the payoff Saturday among dozens of family members and friends. His kid is going down in football history as a grinder and finisher. More than anything, Michael Strahan is going into the Hall of Fame as his father's son.