Gold Jacket Spotlight: Broken promise landed Michael Strahan in Big Apple

Gold Jacket Spotlight Published on : 5/13/2024
Today, many see the duo of MICHAEL STRAHAN and JIMMY JOHNSON as friends and colleagues on “FOX NFL Sunday.”

Their relationship, however, wasn’t always as cordial.

Heading into the 1993 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys held the No. 29 overall pick, the last selection in the first round. Dallas had eyes on Michael, a 6-foot-5, 255-pound defensive end out of Texas Southern, and even flew him out to meet with members of the front office.

“Jimmy promised he was going to draft me to the Cowboys,” Michael recalled in an interview. “He flew me to Dallas and had me go meet with him and JERRY [JONES], and I met TROY AIKMAN and MICHAEL IRVIN and all these guys.”

In the years prior, the Cowboys produced mixed results when selecting in the first round. In three consecutive years, from 1988 to 1990, the team drafted three future Hall of Famers in Irvin, Aikman and EMMITT SMITH. On the flipside, in 1991 and 1992, the franchise held two first-round picks in each draft, including the No. 1 overall pick in 1991. Those four players collectively amassed one Pro Bowl nod and no All-Pro recognitions.

Born in Houston, attending Westbury High School and later Texas Southern, Michael had spent the majority of his life in The Lone Star State, so a draft promise from the Dallas Cowboys was music to his ears.

Come draft day, Michael got a call when the 29th pick came, but not the one he was expecting.

“Sitting in my uncle’s living room eating our food with a briefcase, and I’m like, ‘My contract is in that briefcase. I’m going to be a Cowboy,’ ” recalled Michael, who this week steps into the Gold Jacket Spotlight. “Then we get a call, and they trade down the pick.”

And just like that, Johnson’s promise wasn’t fulfilled. The Lone Star State star instead would shine in The Big Apple.

Dallas traded its first- and fourth-round selections (29th and 112nd) to Green Bay in exchange for Green Bay's two second-rounders, a fourth- and an eighth-round selection (46th, 54th, 94th and 213th).

“I say to Jimmy, ‘You lied. You promised me,’ ” Michael remarked while laughing in an interview. “[Jimmy] said, ‘Well, you know I thought you were going to drop, and I can get you a lot lower, plus I didn't know you were going to be any good.’ ”

The New York Giants selected Michael in the second round 11 picks later at No. 40. Sweet revenge was in order, as the young defensive end would get two opportunities each season to show Dallas what they missed.

In 25 career games against Dallas, Michael totaled 18 sacks and forced two fumbles.

Both the Giants and Cowboys enjoyed their fair share of success during Michael’s time in the league. New York won Super Bowl XLII in 2007, his final season, while Dallas won three titles following the 1992, 1993 and 1995 seasons.

One could argue that if Johnson and the Cowboys had stayed true to their original intent the franchise could have experienced even more postseason success with a young, dominant future Hall of Fame defensive end on the roster.

“I would always think about if I had been a Cowboy, my life would be completely different,” Michael said.

All in all, Strahan performed at the highest level in one of the biggest media markets in the NFL. A member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s, he earned seven Pro Bowl nods, four first-team All-Pro selections and the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2001. He received his Bronze Bust in Canton in 2014.