Good Morning America's Michael Strahan's Transition From Football to TV 'Wasn't Easy'

Parting Shot Michael Strahan 2
Matt Doyle/Getty

"It's important for athletes to remember that when your playing days end, your career and accomplishments are not over."

Michael Strahan is arguably one of the busiest people on television at the moment. In addition to his daily gig as one of the hosts of ABC's Good Morning America, he's also a contributor to FOX Sports and hosts ABC's reboot of the game show The $100,000 Pyramid, one of his "favorite shows to film because it doesn't feel like a's a great time." If all that doesn't keep him busy enough, he also is one of the co-founders of SMAC Entertainment and has his popular athleisure clothing line, MSX by Michael Strahan, which recently expanded to include official NFL-licensed items. Before he moved to TV, Strahan spent 15 years as a defensive end for the New York Giants. He said the transition wasn't "easy," but that he looked to his idols like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson on how to do it successfully. "It's important for athletes to remember that when your playing days end, your career and accomplishments are not over" and to "use what they already have, and what they've built, as a jumping-off point to create a business that they enjoy and feels authentic to who they are."

What has it been like adjusting to the new realities of broadcasting amid COVID-19?

We have had to adjust just like everyone else. We put the health and safety of our staff and crew first. During times like these where fear and anxiety are heightened, straightforward journalism and the information we bring to Good Morning America viewers each morning are more important than ever.

Your clothing line is expanding, which feels like a perfect time because everyone is in athleisure working from home. Why expand now?

My athleisure line, MSX by Michael Strahan, has always been one of my favorite categories. We always make sure to keep everything very versatile so you can wear it no matter where life takes you—from working out, to errands, to hanging out with family and beyond. We want men to always look and feel their best, so it's really exciting to be able to take it to the next level and further expand with the NFL-licensed line. We teased this a bit last Super Bowl with a capsule collection, and it did so well that we came back with NFL-licensed apparel in all 32 NFL teams. It was important to provide the fans with something they can wear to represent their team through colors and subtle logos, but not have it be too in your face so that it's still appropriate for when you're working from home, running errands or watching the game on TV. It's also important for us to keep all the styles at an affordable price point. I miss sports, I think a lot of other people do, too. I feel like we are giving fans a chance to still feel that sense of excitement and unity that sports bring, regardless of where they'll be supporting and cheering their teams on from this season.

COVID-19 has changed every aspect of life, including professional sports. How are you adjusting to covering the upcoming football season?

COVID-19 is affecting people in all aspects of life, so everyone is going to have to adjust in one way or another. Football brings people together and fans have eagerly been waiting for sports to return. However, the priority will always be safety first.

You've achieved the rare feat of the crossover from professional sports to mainstream broadcasting. Was that always the goal?

No, it wasn't always the goal, but when my football career ended I had to adapt and figure out what was next. It's important for athletes to remember that when your playing days end, your career and accomplishments are not over. The transition may not be easy, and it definitely wasn't easy for me, but I was inspired by idols like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan to look beyond sports. To use what they already have, and what they've built, as a jumping-off point to create a business that they enjoy and feel authentic to who they are. And I encourage athletes today to do the same thing, to know that they need to look beyond their playing days and plan for the future to make sure their careers can continue, even after they are done playing.

Considering everything going on in the world: COVID, the election, the cultural reset amid the Black Lives Matter movement, how do you remain true to yourself while still being a personality on TV people can relate to?

I'm human, just like everyone watching, so for me, it's more about being true to myself, but also knowing that people rely on me every day to get their news. I take the opportunity that I've been given to go on-air every morning to help educate the world about everything going on each day. That is the key, always staying informed about what is going on in the world around you.

You host the reboot of the game show The $100,000 Pyramid. Were you always a fan of game shows?

Yes, I have always been a big fan of game shows! I remember watching reruns of the original $10,000 Pyramid when I was younger. To be able to bring back a show that was hosted by the iconic and legendary Dick Clark brought it full circle on the magnitude of the show we were taking on. We couldn't let Dick Clark down, we had to make the show a success! The fun thing about game shows is that the whole family can enjoy. Kids, grandparents—there is something for everyone. It's definitely one of my favorite shows to film because it doesn't feel like a job, getting to watch the guests interact and compete. It's a great time.

You have fans in so many different areas: sports, entertainment, etc. What's a fan encounter that particularly stands out to you?

I would say the craziest thing for me was when people started recognizing me as someone on TV as opposed to a football player. I got to a point in my career where fans didn't even know I played football! It was strange at first, but also an accomplishment to know that I was able to build an entirely separate career that people were recognizing me for.