Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.
Michael Strahan would start Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck at DE
Spike's Pros vs. Joes begins another season Wednesday night, featuring co-hosts Michael Strahan and Jay Glazer.
(Video preview here, including Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens hugging.)
To mark the big occasion I spoke to Strahan Tuesday about the show and assorted other matters. Here is what he said:
On working with his close friend Glazer:
"It’s absolutely hard. No, it’s fun. I’ve known Jay so long we don’t really consider it work. We get to hang out together and watch these guys compete. It’s fun to be able to watch and to be able to do it with him makes it better."
On whether working in reality TV is harder or easier than working on a scripted sitcom, as Strahan did last TV season with Fox's "Brothers":
"I think scripted is harder than the reality world because it’s not really your words and you have to try to act like they’re you’re words when they’re somebody else’s words. In reality, you can say whatever comes to mind and be who you are and it is what it is."
On the experience of doing "Brothers," which was cancelled after one season:
"I loved it. I would love to do more of it, definitely, no doubt. It was a lot of fun but a lot of work. It definitely gave me a different appreciation for acting and what they go through and how tough it is and how much work and studying it is. I loved it. It reminded me a lot of sports, how you prepare and study and learn your lines, working with other people. It was great."
On feedback he got as an actor:
"That was my biggest worry: What’s the feedback? But the feedback was great, that you can actually act. I was happy with that. I’m used to working hard at something and thinking, OK, if I work hard I’m not going to fail. It’s not like I didn’t work hard at this, but either you can do it or you can’t sometimes and I’m glad people thought I could do it."
On criticism of Glazer for conflicts of interest in his roles as a Fox reporter, a close friend of some prominent athletes he covers and a mixed martial arts trainer for some athletes he covers:
"I think the people who question that are people who wish they had the connections and the ability to do what he does. Everybody sees the stories he breaks. He works hard, man. He’s constantly working, constantly on the phone. He’s spending 40 days on the road in training camp. He’s constantly trying to work at what he’s doing. Nothing comes easily for him. He works at those relationships.
"At the same time he was one of the hardest people on me when I played. You understand with him, yes, I am your friend and I am behind you 100 percent. But if you screw up I’m going to be the one who jumps down your throat, too. It’s like separate worlds, and Jay does a good job keeping those things separate.
"Because of how he is and guys understanding that, I think that’s why he’s able to say and do what he does and gets away with it because he can criticize and yet come back and guys will still be his friend because they know he’s coming from a place where he’s honest.
"He’s been working at this for a long time. And like you said he came from nothing and had to work his way up. And he continues to work like that. His schedule is crazy to me, and he does it in two sports now. He has the MMA business where he trains players and guys understand that yes, he’ll train you, but it comes to a point where when works comes around work is work."
On Pros vs. Joes:
"We've shot the whole season. It was a good one, a very good season. We definitely have some surprises. Don’t always expect the pros to win. We also did I call it the Pros vs. the Pro Joes, where you have the basketball with professional football players against professional basketball players and in that case we were able to put together T.O. and Donovan McNabb.
"I don’t think those two have been together since the big brouhaha in Philadelphia, so it ended up being interesting."
On what he thinks will become of T.O.:
"He’ll get a job somewhere. There are definitely teams that could use him. He can still play. He stays in great shape. I think he’s too talented to be out of the league this year. Is anybody taking that chance right now? No, but at some point somebody’s going to take a chance on him."
On McNabb moving to the Redskins:
"Very weird, man, very weird, and weird to see him going within the same division, but I think that it’s good for him, good for that division and good for the league to mix it up. It’s going to be fun to see him play Philadelphia twice and first of all see the reception he gets it in Philadelphia and secondly to see how well he’s able to play with a new coach and a new scheme and new teammates."
On whether the Giants defense will be better:
"I hope so. They have the talent. I think for the Giants it’s just a leadership role. I love Perry Fewell as a coordinator. He seems to bring a lot of excitement. From talking to the guys he brings that old school excitement that they needed. What was missing last year was some of that excitement and leadership, especially after Antonio Pierce got hurt. You need guys to step up and say this is my team, I’m going to take control of it and if guys can do that I think they have a great chance of going far."
On who he would start at defensive end:
"Of course you’ve got [Justin] Tuck and of course you’ve got Osi [Umenyiora]. I know Osi got benched last year. But I think he’s a Pro Bowl defensive end. How are you going to sit him on the bench? I just don’t believe you’re helping yourself."
On whether he still misses playing:
"I still think about getting on the field. I still don’t think I’m too old. I think I could play two more years, at least."
So why don’t you?
"You know what? I don’t want to. I’m still in shape, still do everything I need to do to stay in shape. If they said, 'OK, Michael, come in on Friday through Sunday or Monday,' cool, I would do it. But anything more than that they can keep.
"I'm in just as good if not in better shape. I work hard. I weigh about 250. I’ve got a nice little six pack going. I live by the beach, man. I have to stay in shape."
On how LeBron James handled his "Decision:"
"As a guy who watches sports and as a LeBron James fan, I don’t think he needed that [TV] hour. That could have been done away with. I didn’t like that.
"But my whole thing is I could care less where he was going to play as long as he’s going to play. As long as he didn’t say, 'I’m retiring.' To get criticized because he’s from Cleveland, he did that in Cleveland, he did this in Cleveland. The guy spent seven years there. They have free agents for a reason. He’s free, free and you can go wherever you want to go.
"Did they make a big hoopla out of it that they didn’t need to make? Yes. Did they lose a lot of goodwill, all of it in Cleveland and a lot of it throughout the country? No doubt. But it does not diminish the fact he’s a great player. He did what is best for his career, because he wants to win championships.
"It’s unselfish in a way to me to say, 'OK, I’ll take less money to go to a team where there are other stars.' That’s unselfish."
On whether he would have handled a one-hour TV special more deftly than James did:
"I would have had like six people watching."
On whether he made the right decision signing with Fox after retiring:
"Definitely, no doubt. I look back on it, it was the only move to really make. If I had gone anywhere else I would seriously, seriously regret it.
"Fox is, personality-wise, team-wise, location, schedule, everything is perfect for my situation and how I am. I couldn’t think of a better situation to be in.
"There’s just something special about being around these guys who have done it for so long."