Interviews

No Limits: Michael Strahan's Secret to 'Wake Up Happy'

The TV host and NFL Hall of Famer went from New York hero, to villain and back again.

MIchael Strahan

On a bright summer morning at Lincoln Center in New York City, men in three-piece suits and women in summer dresses sip on mimosas in the posh Lincoln Ristorante. No one would mistake these people for football fans. In fact, the odds are good that many of them probably never saw Michael Strahan play a single game for the Giants during his 15-year Hall of Fame career. But their eyes keep darting to the front door as they make polite conversation and wait for him to arrive.

When Strahan does appear, he’s wearing a suit, too. Instead of being greeted with a chorus of his famous pre-game calling card, “Stomp you out!” as he would anywhere else in New York, these folks instead quietly jockey for position to get a quick word in with the man of honor at this launch party for his new book, Wake Up Happy. An incongruous scene such as this, so unimaginable 10 years ago, is as clear a sign as any that Strahan’s metamorphosis from shit-talking gridiron monster to media darling is complete. In his heart, though, he is still a football player and relishes the awkwardness of being embraced by a brand new audience. When a speaker gets on the microphone to introduce him, she gushes over his charity work, his new book, and his charisma as co-host of Live with Kelly and Michael and contributor on Good Morning America. But when she starts to bullet-point the myriad accomplishments of his football career, she sounds like a high school student struggling to read a foreign language. At one point, she says Strahan “won the NFL Super Bowl.”

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When the intro is done, Strahan accepts the mic and says, “Thank you so much for that...I just want to say: I knew you didn’t know much about football, but if you called it ‘the NFL Super Bowl,’ then I know you really know nothing about football! There’s only one Super Bowl!”

He laughs from his belly at his own punch line, tossing his head back to exhibit the iconic gap-toothed smile. The whole room erupts with him, the embarrassed speaker most of all. Strahan puts an arm around her, tells the crowd how lovely she is, and gives a short speech to tease the Oct. 13 book release.

“The book is about your attitude in life,” Strahan explains later. “And really, that’s what I’ve learned life is all about. It’s about approaching something that a lot of people see as a problem, but you see a way through it. I had years when I didn’t think like that. I wasn’t really trying to enjoy a moment or I’d look at something and think, ‘That’s too big to overcome.’ Then I had a total mindset switch to enjoy every day. There’s nothing so big that you can’t overcome it if you put your mind to it and wake up happy. That’s how I live my life—which is to find the good in everything.”

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