I get nervous before every single TV appearance. Admittedly, it was much worse early on. Before my first show, I was really scared we were just going to run out of stuff to talk about. I thought I was going to have to start doing crazy stuff to keep people interested. Now, I still get that same nervous energy, but once the producer shouts “30 SECONDS!” and the music starts playing, everything shifts and my focus is completely on the show. Once the camera is rolling, I’m good.
There are more similarities than you’d think between daytime TV and football.
In TV, the nervousness comes from the energy of the crowd and wanting to keep everyone engaged. In football, the nerves are caused by something much less abstract. Before football games, I was scared of the legion of 300-pound linemen who were going to try to smash my head in. But all you could do before a game is hope that you’re prepared to handle what’s coming, because there was only one winner and one loser on every play. But ultimately, similar to how I settle down now once the camera’s rolling, after getting that first hit in, my attitude always shifted to, Alright, we’re going to figure this out.
Sometimes you take that one hit and think, Oh yeah, all day baby! And then sometimes you take that first hit and you’re like, Ohhhh, it’s going to be a long day for me…
But probably the biggest similarity between my two professions is the teamwork. Whether I’m in the TV studio or in the locker room, my performance is ultimately reliant on a wide range of people from different backgrounds who all have the same goal, whether it’s winning the Super Bowl or winning ratings.
In order to succeed, you must put your trust in others and have them do the same for you. In football, I had to trust that when I’m in the “C” gap, you have the “B” and he has the “A”. You do your jobs so that I can do mine. The same exists when I’m on the air with Kelly. We pick each other up, balance each other out and generally trust that the other person is going help the other perform to the best of their abilities. We’re a team out there.
With this in mind, I wanted to put into context what my new teams are like by comparing them to a few figures from my NFL playing days.
Kelly Ripa: Middle Linebacker
Kelly’s funny because whenever someone shows up to the studio wearing a Giants uniform, she’ll go up to them and say, “Hey, I know you’re really glad to meet me! It’s nice to meet you. I’m Kelly.” And then she’ll sign their football, and include a little “92 ½” on it.
Yes, she might be pint-sized, but make no mistake: Kelly is as competitive, driven and hungry for a W as anyone I’ve ever suited up with. The woman will die trying before she lets someone else win. So I would have to say Kelly would be… I’m not going to say quarterback, because quarterbacks don’t want to get dirty. Kelly wants to get dirty, so Kelly would probably be the middle linebacker.
Yeah, Kelly Ripa is Ray Lewis.
She’s the one on the field that’s so focused and dialed in that they’re screaming at everybody, expecting the best out of the team and hitting anything that moves. She’s wreckin’ shop out there, and she does it with attitude, too, getting in everyone’s face to talk trash and pumping her teammates up. Kelly’s there to win, and God help you if you get in her way.
Robin Roberts: Quarterback
No question about it, Robin Roberts is Tom Brady. Tall and good looking. Just looking at them — not even talking to them — makes you want to be around them. They’re a light, and everyone else is a moth just fluttering around. Soft-spoken and very intelligent. You can tell they know everything that’s going on and understand how to dictate responsibility. They know how to get the best out of the talent surrounding them.
In many ways, she’s like the quarterback I always hated playing against. She’s extremely poised and she handles every situation perfectly, whether it’s good or bad. She has a way of making something that’s so difficult look so freaking easy. You look at her and go, Why not me, Lord?
Robin’s definitely my quarterback.
Amy Robach: Wide Receiver
Amy Robach would be a wide receiver. She’d be a good wide receiver, too. She’s smart and she always wants the ball. She’s got that attitude of, Give it to me. I can handle this. Throw the damn thing to me. No doubt, she’s Keyshawn Johnson. Give her the damn ball.
She looks cool and calm, but she’s also precise like a sniper. Another good comparison might be Antonio Brown. Yeah, Antonio Brown with some Steve Smith Sr. mixed in, because she’s got a little spunk. She wouldn’t be the one that gets hit and goes down. She would be the type of wide receiver that dishes out punishment every time she’s tackled. Amy has Antonio Brown’s quickness and that little dance, but then she also carries that swag and roughness of a Steve Smith.
George Stephanopoulos: Center
George Stephanopoulos is so… George Stephanopoulos.
With George, what you see is what you get. You know you can have complete confidence in him. He’s going to make sure everything is operating the way it’s supposed to operate. He’s the one that points out who’s doing what. For that reason, I think George would be a center like Nick Mangold. He has to touch the football on every down and make sure to call out what blitzes are coming in order to help Robin out back there. He makes sure everybody is organized before the play starts, and then he’s going to do his job. And yeah, he’s going to rough somebody up, but he doesn’t want you to go, “Yay George! Yeah, way to go!” He’s not that kind of player. He’s not going to go up and be like, “Yeah, I got that.” George would be like, “Psssst, this is just what I do. Don’t even tell me it’s good. I just want to do it because I’m a lineman, and it’s my job.”
That’s George. That is absolutely, 100 percent George.
Lara Spencer: Running back
Lara Spencer is a running back who is hungry for the ball. And once you give it to her, she’s like a little water bug and she’s all over the place.
She would be like Jamaal Charles. Her style is like stop, stutter, go, slash, do this, and then go for the home run. That’s Lara. Boundless energy and a very quick thought process — like you can see all the neutrons in her brain go pop, pop, pop, pop, poppin’ all the time because she can’t sit still. Always thinking, always moving. Give her a crease or an opening, and she’s taking it to the house. Taking it home, 100 percent.
I’m glad I get to sit next to her on GMA, because I feed off her energy, but it also puts me at ease. Being around someone with that much passion and talent lifts the entire team up.
Ginger Zee: Kicker
Ginger knows Zee-ro about sports. So Ginger would be a great coach.
Ginger is very good on the fly and she’s very smart. You know what? Ginger would be a great punter or placekicker. We had a placekicker with the Giants who took full law school courses during the season once (which lets you know exactly how much kickers are generally engaged with football). Ginger would be the kicker, because she’s there and she’s going to help your team win and she’s going to make those plays, but when she doesn’t have to kick, she’s off doing something unrelated to the sport.
It’s like, I can kick a ball. I’m good at it. I’ll do that. But I’m interested in other stuff, too.
Ginger is by far the kicker.
Michael Gelman: Head coach
Michael Gelman would be the head coach, and he’d be a tough one, because in many ways, he’s a perfectionist. He needs control. And you’d have to make him the coach, because he would definitely fight somebody if he were out on the field. He’s the guy who everyone puts their trust in to lead the charge, and he doesn’t back down from anyone. He has a plan of attack that he’s going to execute.
And if you got something to say about it, you can take a lap.
That covers my morning show crews, but it only seems fair that my football guys get some comparisons as well…
Terry Bradshaw: Kelly Ripa
Terry Bradshaw’s best comparison is Kelly Ripa. By far.
Like Kelly, Terry is just naturally funny. A great storyteller. And he says the most outlandish things that make no sense, but they work for him because of the way he says them.
Terry Bradshaw has made the greatest living of anyone I know by playing the dumb guy. It’s amazing.
I really love watching Terry do game highlights during the season. I get a slightly different view of it than people at home because I often have to see him do highlights for the same game over and over.
So say the game in Detroit ends. We go on air and talk about what happened, and then Terry does the highlights from that game and all the other ones in progress. When the Giants game ends at a different time, we go straight into discussion about that game, and then Terry has to do the highlights from the other games all over again. And then the Cowboys game ends, and he has to do the highlights all over again, and so on.
So you just sit there and watch him do the highlights each time — and he’s doing the same highlights five or six times — and he’s doing them almost completely different every single time. He’s just being funny, having a good time and saying pretty much whatever the hell is on his mind, regardless of accuracy. And it’s freaking great. He is a genius at it. Nobody can do it like him.
But if he doesn’t know something, he won’t fake it. He’ll be like, “Curt. I don’t know that guy’s name.” He screws up all the time, which is all part of the experience. The guy’s a superstar.
Jimmy Johnson: Michael Gelman
Jimmy Johnson would be Michael Gelman. He would produce and run the show, no doubt. He would whip everybody into shape and have you shaking in your boots when you came into meetings.
You’d come into work and know not to screw up, because Jimmy would have you running sprints.
Curt Menefee: George Stephanopoulos
Curt Menefee would be George Stephanopoulos. He would be the steady guy — the one who acts like nothing’s chaotic even though there’s a tornado going on around him. He’s never too up or too down. He just gets the job done.
Howie Long: Amy Robach
Howie would be like Amy Robach, first off because he has a perfectly symmetrical head that fits great on camera from every angle. I’m visualizing it right now — just perfect.
Howie’s very naturally smart, and he’s also got the glasses, which always makes you look even smarter than you are. And he’s very meticulous. I trust him to read me the news, so for that reason, he’s Amy.
Jay Glazer: Jay Glazer
I don’t think there’s anybody out there like Jay. Jay Glazer is the free agent of all shows — the guy who just wants to do it all. Without a doubt, Jay is the most unique individual I’ve ever met in my life, and he’s my best friend. I’ve never seen another Jay Glazer, and thank God for that, because he’s a lot for one person to handle as a friend. He’s just special, so I can’t even think of any particular position where Jay would be a perfect fit.
If it were up to him, he’d play every position possible, and then probably make a few new ones up.
Michael Strahan is a Pro Football Hall of Famer who is the co-host of LIVE with Kelly and Michael, a FOX NFL Sunday Analyst and a special co-host of Good Morning America. His book, Wake Up Happy: The Dream Big, Win Big Guide To Transforming Your Life, is available for pre-order now and hits stores October 13. Learn more at wakeuphappy.com.