Howard Kurtz Talks Interviewing Michael Strahan For Media Buzz
Surrounded by the chaos of the NFL’s Media Day, my conversation with Michael Strahan took an unexpected turn.
He was the perfect guy to be interviewing for the Super Bowl Sunday edition of “Media Buzz,” because he’s dealt with the press mob as a New York Giants star and is now a member of the Fox Sports team (as well as Kelly Ripa’s co-host). So I asked him why professional athletes so often deliver boring, clichéd answers.
“No one wants the coach to come and say, ‘Come into my office, son. Why would you say this, or why would you do that.’ You don’t want to be the sound bite guy. You’re almost scared into not being yourself and that’s the hard part about dealing with the media.”
Now that Strahan is part of the media, he insists he doesn’t pull punches in talking about his former teammates and opponents. And he defended Richard Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks defensive end, who went off on that trash-talking rant after making the play that sent his team to the Super Bowl.
“That’s how it is,” Strahan told me, “you have to be a little crazy, you have to be a little arrogant, you have to be able to talk smack in order to survive. And for people to finally see that, it scared them, and I don’t know why there was such a adverse reaction to it.”
This is where Strahan’s candor surprised me. I asked if he’d ever experienced anything like the online racial abuse directed at Sherman after his mad-as-hell moment.
“I still get it now, you kidding me,” he said. “I don’t think that ever goes away, because I think there are a lot of ignorant people out there. That’s the best way to put it, the ignorant people who look people for their race instead of them as a person.”
So you can be chatting up Kelly Ripa every morning, and some people will still attack you on racial grounds.
After we wrapped up, I spotted Erin Andrews across the room and basically tackled her. What was she thinking, I wondered, while standing there with a mike during Sherman’s emotional outburst?
“I’d better not mess this up.”
She was feeling the heat?
“Yeah, I was feeling a lot of pressure because I knew I would be crucified if I asked a stupid question,” Andrews told me.
There was more, including the question of whether television insists that female reporters who work the sidelines be very attractive.
The playoffs and the Super Bowl are high-stakes events, not only for the players but for the journalists and commentators who cover them. Michael Strahan and Erin Andrews provided me with a revealing glimpse of life in that hothouse environment.
Don't miss Media Buzz on Sunday at 11a/5p ET.