When most of us look to retire from our profession we are thinking that we will be around the age of 65. What about when you retire from your job at the age of 36? Most of us would dream to do that. Yet when New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan left the game of football retiring was the last thing on his mind. Today he could possibly be the busiest man in show business. Michael works on a few TV shows such as NFL on Fox, Good Morning America and is a host of a new game show. Did I mention he is also an actor?
When you talk to Michael being a Super Bowl Champ, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and having a fantastic career in the entertainment world doesn’t define him. Strahan wants to be known for being a good person. He wants to teach his kids by example. He wants to instill the values he learned from his parents.
With all of that on Michael’s mind he knows he needs to have a healthy lifestyle. From balancing work and family Michael needs to have enough energy to last him the entire day. To help give him the energy that we all see from him on a day to day basis Michael uses products from Meta Health. Not only does Michael use them, but he encouraged his father to do so as well. Meta Health came out with a fantastic video where Michael chats with his father about creating that healthier lifestyle. Michael and his father do this by having a heart to heart conversation.
As a catalyst for conversation, the Heart 2 Heart campaign is providing a first-hand look at how easy it is to have a heart health talk with your loved one through a new video showcasing Michael Strahan’s intimate conversation with his father, Gene and tips on how to help your loved one jumpstart their heart-healthy routine with Meta.
Tommy Riles and I had the great pleasure of chatting with Michael about his health, fatherhood, and football.
Tommy Riles: You have all this amazing energy. What is your morning routine that puts you into the right mode so that when you get to your shows you have that energy all day long?
Michael Strahan: My routine is the same. I am a creature of habit. I wake up. I turn on the music. Music sets the tone for my day. If you choose slow music make sure you don’t go anywhere that day. (All laugh.) You got to get some upbeat music going on. Something that gets you going. Hop in the shower. A nice hot shower always wakes you up.
I am kind of like a school kid. It is like something a parent wants their kid to be. I try to make my mornings as think less as possible. I don’t have to think much. I put my clothes out the night before. It is so quick I go in and get dressed and have breakfast. I always make sure I eat a good breakfast before I go to work. The last thing I want to do is be hangry. (All laugh.) I am mad because I didn’t eat and I am hungry. I always eat a good breakfast before I leave.
It depends what I am going to do throughout the day. I might take some snacks and all those different things. Music puts me in the mood. Music and a shower is my routine to let me know that my day has started and it is time to go.
Art Eddy: I love the video of you and your dad for Meta Health’s Heart to Heart campaign. I lost my mom to cancer, but I still have my dad. I want to take care of him. What you said to your dad about his health was perfect.
MS: It is scary because it is your father. My dad is truly my hero and the most influential person in my life. He took a chance when he said, ‘Son I know you don’t play football. We don’t have a lot of money. I am going to send you back to Texas where you are going to play football and get a scholarship. Then you are going to go to the pros.’
He is telling me all these things. I am like I am in Germany. I have not played football since I was eight years old. He had this belief. He saw something that I didn’t see. He always stuck to it. He always kept pushing me. He always told me when, when, when. Not if, if, if. It worked out.
It is a scary conversation because that is probably the last person you don’t want to offend. You don’t want to make them feel like they are weak. You don’t want to accept that they are older. So for me it was a difficult conversation to even think of. It took me a scare to get up and do it. I am so glad I did. It was worth it. To see him go to the gym every day and ride his bike. He said he wants to be built like a wasp. (All laugh.) He says he is not going anywhere and he has a long way to go. I am so happy to hear that.
TR: The heart to heart conversation is so important on so many levels. The aspect of sitting down and having a conversation with your dad about health and life is great. Did you have a lot of those talks like that growing up?
MS: I was fortunate enough to be the youngest of six. My dad included us in everything. As I got older my dad never forced you to stay. We are going to go here. If you didn’t want to go he wouldn’t say you know what you are going to go. You are a teenager. You are 16, 17. You can make your own decisions. For me for some reason I just enjoyed being around him. We would go fishing in Spain every year. We would take the camper out there.
So the conversations with him have always been easy in a way. Listening to advice has always been easy. I was listening and taking advice from someone who I really trusted. I was around him and I saw the way he lived and the way he walked the walk.
Now I hope to do the same thing with my kids. That is the greatest thing about being a father. The ability to I wouldn’t say sculpt your kids, but you are the person that they are going to learn from. You are their influence. You are their hero. You are their everything. What you teach them early is what they are going to take with them for the rest of their life. It is a big responsibility. Hopefully you get it right.
AE: Switching to fatherhood now, what are some of the core values you looked to instill in your children as they grow up?
MS: Accountability. I think it is about being a good person. Being nice. It is like the simple things. I found in my life the simple things have led me to the best things in life. Being nice. Being accountable. Working hard. Just the simple things like that. I don’t think life gets too complicated. It is complicated as you make it. I think my kids feel very appreciative of everything because there is always an alternative of somewhere where you don’t want to go.
That is what helps me with my kids. It wasn’t always like this. Also at the same time my life is not your life. Don’t be banking on daddy to take care of you. (All laugh.) I had to work and you have to work. A lot of people said I could have retired. Yes, I could have retired. I could be sitting in Miami just hanging out. I retired at a point especially with my twins, who are 11 years old, they were three. They don’t remember daddy the football player. The older ones remember me as a football player, but still you are their father. How could I retire at 36 years old and then tell my kids work hard. (All laugh.)
I did work hard, but they don’t remember seeing that. I am giving them an example. That is the most important thing. You got to be an example to your kids. So am trying to be a good example to them of how to live your life. How to be nice to people. How to work hard. How to enjoy every day and look on the bright side of things.
TR: My daughter was born with some heart issues. She is fine now, but needed surgery when she was born. My wife and I become stronger from that. What is one challenge as a parent that has made you a stronger person and a stronger man?
MS: Fortunately for me I haven’t had any health scares with my kids. I think every day is scary. Every day is scary with your kids. I think the biggest challenge for me with my kids would probably be time management. To make my kids a priority is very important. If it is get on a plane and fly down for a day and go back or go to a basketball practice or go to a father daughter dance. I just have to do what I have to do for my kids. I have to let them know that they are a priority because my dad did that for me. If there was a trip to be taken and my brothers and sisters couldn’t go he would not go. It was very unselfish for him.
I look at my challenges as my issues because I chose it. My kids are not going to suffer any loss because of my decisions. I want them to know I am there and I am working for them and for us, but at the same time they are the number one priority. I have yet to see anybody from what I have heard on their deathbed talk about work. It is about your family. That is what is important. You always got to keep that balance and not let work overtake your life. That is my biggest challenge. It is time management.
AE: What advice do you have for new dads out there?
MS: If you hear something bump in the other room you don’t run in there scared. When you have more than one kid you will know what I am talking about. (All laugh.) When you have your first you will sleep in the same room. I had my hand in on the crib to make sure that they are breathing.
Now I hear something go boom. I am like are you okay? I hear them say yeah. I don’t even get up and look to see what it is. They tore a hole in the wall. I am like whatever. It is what it is. In a lot of ways relax and enjoy being a parent. Nobody is a perfect parent. It is never going to happen. Just be the best parent you can actually be. Learn to relax and be comfortable. You are not the first parent and you will not be the last parent. Don’t stress too much over it.
TR: I want you to take us to that moment as underdogs in that Super Bowl. I am thinking it couldn’t have felt any better with the team you took down in that game.
MS: You go to all those press conferences before the game. They ask Plaxico Burress who is going to win. He said of course we are. People kill me. Whenever they ask who is going to win and a guy says that we are going to win. Oh how can they say that? You want them to say oh they are going to win. We are going to get our butt kicked. Who says that? Nobody.
Of course he said that we are going to win. I think he said 21 to 17 or 24 to 17. They told (Tom) Brady that. Brady let out a little laugh. I love Tom. He is a great father by the way too. They have been scoring an average of 30 points each game.
The morning of the game everybody was pretty loose. Myself, Armani Toomer, and Grey Ruegamer were the only three players to have been in a Super Bowl. (Coach) Coughlin let us talk to the team. Our thing was have fun and relax. When the ball gets kicked off it is still football. It doesn’t matter that it is the Super Bowl. It doesn’t matter about the cameras and flashbulbs. It is just football. Those people have no bearing on what happens on the football field. So during the week everyone was relaxed. It was the most relaxed we were all season. I was the one who told them to relax and I was worried.
That morning at breakfast I am relaxed finally. Osi (Umenyiora) comes up to me and says, ‘You know if we don’t get to Tom Brady today we are not going to win this game. We got to get to Tom Brady.’ I was like oh yeah that is cool while putting my bacon and eggs on my plate. (All laugh.)
He looks at me again and says, ‘No, we got to get to Brady today.’ That’s when it hit me. These boys are ready. We got to the game. We were hitting him so often that we were looking around like this has to be a joke. Something is wrong. Are these guys setting us up for something? I think we were just on a high. I never been in a game where everybody on the defense was so in tune in every play together. To give up only 14 points to that team was unheard of.
We were down 14 to 10. This was a team that was supposed to be blowing us out. I was like one touchdown fellas. We got this. After the David Tyree catch even though we didn’t score a touchdown, but after that catch this game was over. We knew it at that point. You don’t have something that good happen and then don’t finish it. Once we won we were over the moon. We never wanted to play them again. (All laugh.) It goes to show that you never count yourself out no matter what the odds seem like. Everyone has a chance. I think that was the lesson from that game.
Life of Dad Quick Five
AE: What is your favorite family movie that you guys like to watch together?
MS: Forrest Gump
AE: Do you guys have a favorite song that you all like to dance to?
MS: Whip Nae Nae.
AE: Describe the perfect family vacation.
MS: We all like Disney World.
AE: What was your first thought when you got the call about being inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.?
MS: It is about damn time.
AE: The NFC East is known for a division with a great rivalry. Which team in that division did you get most pumped up to play against?
MS: The Eagles.
Disclosure: We have partnered with Meta Wellness for this promotion.