Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Cooley Zone: Remembering Strahan

Thank God Michael Strahan is retiring. He's doing me a favor by relieving plenty of stress from my life two weeks a year. Number 92 has beaten my ass enough times for any 36 year-old man. I'm happy I don't have to worry about it anymore, but at the same time I'm a little disappointed. With this offseason's retirement of Strahan, as well as Brett Favre, almost none of my childhood idols are left in the game. The fact remains, though, that Michael Strahan has been, and in my opinion still would be, a major force in the NFL.

In my eight Skins-Giants matchups I would define Strahan as the most intelligent defensive player on the field. I guess that's bound to happen toward the end of a fifteen-year career; a career that began after the 1993 draft, about the same time I was finishing up the sixth grade. He made his first pro bowl shortly after I wrapped up my first season on the Logan High freshman football team. Even better, No. 92 set the NFL record for sacks (22.5) and was named Defensive Player of the Year while I sat the bench on a below-average Utah State squad. As I entered the NFL, Michael Strahan became a looming standard of competition. He played at a level far above anything I'd ever seen before and keeping up with him has made me a better player.

One of my favorite memories of Strahan happened last season at FedEx field. Right tackle Jon Jansen suffered a season-ending injury two weeks earlier and our offense was having some problems controlling the right side of the line. We had built ourselves a lead in the game, but it quickly diminished as our offense became extremely conservative. Throughout the second half I stayed in from my tight end position on third downs to pass block Strahan. I had mixed things up and held my own, but in the fourth quarter there was a breaking point.

We finished up a second-down run for nothing and were facing another third-and-long. Michael looks at me and says, "Cooley, I know you've been stayin' in blockin' me all day on third down. You ain't gonna block me anymore!" I didn't give up a sack, but I may as well have. Strahan collapsed the pocket and as Jason Campbell tried to get rid of the ball he fumbled. On the way back to the sideline I hear a voice behind me saying, "You better start running some routes ‘cause you're not here to block me!" As I looked over my shoulder I will never forget that big-ass Strahan grin.

Putting in a game tape of Giants film, the first thing a player will notice about Strahan is that he is a yard in the backfield before most of the offense has moved. Someone might guess he has a spy in the huddle telling him the snap count, but he is just that fast. Whatever football sense he has developed has allowed him a huge advantage getting off and getting around the ball. Pair his knowledge with an uncanny ability to explode 260 pounds around the football field and he is remarkably hard to control.

The Redskins faced the Giants later last season on a miserable windy day in New York. Before we handed the Giants their second-to-last loss preceding the Super Bowl, a Big Blue hand fell on my shoulder. Michael Strahan was there to tell me congrats on making my first Pro Bowl and then something I will always remember: "Good luck." Then he looks toward my eyes and says, "You deserve everything, Cooley. You're a great player."

Well, I'm sure Michael has heard this before, but I want to say it. He deserves everything. He has always been a great football player.

Posted on Yahoo's Shutdown Corner last Wednesday.

Facebook Comments


another good blog by Cooley,and classy one too.

I agree with Strahan,you need to be running routes instead of blocking...You're a good blocker for a TE but you're better at catching passes.that giants game pissed me of so much with how conservative the offense got.

Whats up Chris, I'm in the military currently on deployment to the middle east. i check your blog a couple times a week. Todays article on Strahan just shows how much class you have, you already have young kids looking up to you the way you looked up to him, you are well on your way to becoming a superstar just like Strahan. To any Redskin fan you already are a superstar! Congrats on your marriage and good luck on this upcoming season, we'll be watching ya, just beat those Cowboys and we'll be satisfied!

Joshua Hill

I love reading your blog Chris!! I am a huge fan!! I was actually there at your signing today and it was sooo great getting to meet you! :)

I'm glad to see the respect and camaraderie among NFL players is real, and not something players just BS about. Strahan was a good guy as well as a good player, and he was one of very few division rivals I couldn't bring myself to hate as a fan.

You are a classy dude Chris. True sportsmanship is a quality you don't see enough of anymore. You bring a spirit to this game that means a lot to your fans. FYI - I am sporting your CC47 shirt...hopefully I have turned some more people on to your blog. You rock!!

You know I agree with The Hook. When it comes to division rivals it does not get more crazed for fans than the NFC East, but there are a hand full of players you cannot help but respect. As long as they are not a cowboy.

Great post Cooley, I will be glad to see Mr. Gaptooth retire because he did terrorize us every time we played them, he was a helluva player. First ballot hall of fame? Tough question.


Been a Redskins fan since the late '50's. You're on the list of my all time favorite players. Talent, class, and a winner.

Thanks for a great blog entry about a great player. I'll like Strahan a lot better in the broadcast booth than I did watching him bash Redskins QB's.

Chris, its good to see another Grizzly here in the DC metro area. Class of 92 You are a great human being and a great football player, keep it up. Also congrats on the marriage, you have a lovely wife


I agree. Strahan has the quickest first step of any lineman that I have ever seen. In my opinion, he's been working on the commentating career for the last few years. Wish him well.

Once again, Cooley shows the world what a class act he really is and why we love him so much here in the DC area. Chris, we are so lucky to have a player like you showing the other losers how it should be done. Thank you for being a great person on and off the field! Your mom did a great job raising you.

Chris, this was just a fantastic read, and a class move, for sure. It reeks of excellence.

Here's looking forward to maybe seeing you in July!!!


I hate Strahan, just like any other Giants player. But I do give him respect for being the player he was. (I love that was statement) Can you end a sentence with was? How about a question?


Yes, to first ballot hall of fame.

Great to hear what goes on in the trenches.
I would love to hear what Jansen says about Strahan. Those two have waged a few epic battles in my opinion.
Thanks for the insight Captain Chaos.

Hey Chris....I'm a lifelong Giants fan and appreciate your tribute to Strahan very much...he is surely a class act and so are you. Good luck this season

What's up Chris,It's cool of you to make a blog and let us "ordinary" people in on your life. Pro Athletes sometimes lead very private lives and you never get to know them, so it is neat to get to indetify you off the field, as well as on. You're freakin' Hilarious man - Good luck in all you do and look forward to this upcoming season! -All the best!
Jori and Kimberly Fullerton 'Skins fans in Arizona

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