Michael Strahan has opened up about his abruptly jumping ship this spring from “LIVE! with Kelly and Michael” for “Good Morning America,” which took co-host Kelly Ripa by surprise.
“The most disappointing thing to me was that I was painted as the bad guy, because I value the way I carry myself,” Strahan, 44, told People magazine, in online excerpts from the issue being published Friday. “I don’t want people to see me as ‘Oh, he just ran out, just left them there.’ That’s just not true.”
Ripa, 45, took some days off work after Strahan caught both her and executive producer Michael Gelman by surprise with his April 19 announcement. One week later, producers said Strahan, who had been scheduled to stay through the summer, would be leaving after the May 13 show instead.
“I wasn’t surprised by her reaction at all,” Strahan told People, “but I can’t control somebody else’s actions. I was there four years, and it’s about more than just being in front of the camera.” He added, “At one point I think we were friends. I don’t know what happened at the end. I learned a lot from her, though.”
Strahan, an NFL Hall of Famer who spent his entire 15-year career as a defensive end with the New York Giants, retiring after the 2007 season, had guest-hosted the long-running syndicated morning show on multiple occasions before joining as co-host on Sept. 4, 2012. He and Ripa twice won the Daytime Emmy for outstanding entertainment talk show host twice.
Despite their on-air chemistry, however, “Toward the end of it all, we didn’t really communicate that much,” Strahan told People. “I kinda looked at it like, ‘It was what it was.’ I come from a business where you have to collaborate. The show was going well? We’re all winning. That’s all that matters to me.”