Michael Strahan on the 'Selfish' Nature of Working in TV and Tense Relationship with Kelly Ripa

"I've done things where I went in with team concepts, and I got there and realized it's not about team," the former NFL star told The New York Times

Michael Strahan is opening up about his relationship with former colleague Kelly Ripa.

The former NFL player, 48, spoke to The New York Times about his time on Live with Kelly and Michael and the heavily discussed tensions between the then-cohosts.

Calling his time with Ripa, 49, an “experience”, Strahan said he tried to create an environment where they could work through their issues.

“One thing I tried to do is have a meeting every few weeks with her,” he told the NYT. “We met a few times, and that was fine. But then eventually she said she didn’t need to meet.”

“Can’t force somebody to do something they don’t want to do.”

ABC's "Live With Kelly And Michael" - 2013
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Strahan says they both did their best to not let their offscreen issues impact on the show’s classic dynamic, however, “certain things that were going on behind the scenes just caught up.”

While maintaining he “remained the same person I was from day one,” the former NFL star said “when it was time to go, it was time to go.”

However, he says his exit from Live with Kelly and Michael in 2016 “could have been handled better.”

“I didn’t wake up and say, ‘I want a job at GMA.’ I was asked to do it by the people who run the network,” Strahan said. “It was really not a choice. It was a request.”

Strahan said that when the news broke he would be leaving Live, “it was treated as if I was the guy who walked in and said, ‘I’m leaving.’ That part was totally misconstrued, mishandled in every way.”

“People who should have handled it better have all apologized, but a lot of the damage had already been done. For me, it was like: Move on. Success is the best thing. Just keep on moving,” he said.

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Michael Strahan. Noam Galai/Getty

The $100,000 Pyramid game show host compared working on TV to playing football.

“The stakes are definitely different. Football will be the hardest thing I will ever do when it comes to work, because it requires you, mentally, to take yourself where you never thought you could go physically. That’s not required now,” he explained, adding that while he brings the team sport mentality into his hosting jobs, it’s not always reciprocated.

“But the mental aspect of working in TV is like it was in football. I don’t want to be on the show and feel like everyone else is carrying me. I want us all to be successful,” he said. “I’ve done things where I went in with team concepts, and I got there and realized it’s not about team. It’s selfish, and I don’t operate well under that.”

“In sports, you can put as many great players as you want on a team, but if one guy out there is worried about himself, it will not work,” the Super Bowl champ continued. “Then on television, I’ve had jobs where I got there and felt like: ‘Wow, I didn’t know I was supposed to be a sidekick. I thought I was coming here to be a partner.'”

But while the world of daytime television may have been more individualistic than Strahan anticipated, he added that he learned a lot about hosting and interviewing from Ripa, who has been on Live since 2001.

“I learned so much from Kelly, so much from [executive producer] Michael Gelman,” Strahan said.

“If you look at the show, it really hasn’t changed since Regis [Philbin] started the damn thing. He created this formula. It’s kind of a plug-and-play. You learn how to craft a story. ‘What did you do last night?’ ‘Oh, I had a glass of water.’ But you learn to tell the story to make it seem like the most interesting glass of water. Those are things that I learned from her,” he explained. “She’s brilliant in that way.”

Strahan added, “If people think, ‘Oh, he hates her’ — I don’t hate her. I do respect her for what she can do at her job. I cannot say enough about how good she is at her job.”

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Michael Strahan. Michael Tran/FilmMagic

In May 2016, Ripa told PEOPLE that a “part of” her could “understand” how the way Strahan’s exit was handled “may have been an oversight.”

“And again, after 26 years, at this point we are like a family,” she went on. “And sometimes when you are so comfortable with somebody, you may not give them the same consideration as somebody you’re not as comfortable with — a certain formality falls away.”

“People make mistakes, and we’re all human,” she told PEOPLE. “They’re human and I’m human. We all have these moments, and it’s about how you move forward and how you begin again.”

A few months later, Strahan told PEOPLE that “The most disappointing thing to me was that I was painted as the bad guy, because I value the way I carry myself. I don’t want people to see me as ‘Oh, he just ran out, just left them there.’ That’s just not true.”

Ripa and Strahan hosted Live together for nearly four years after the footballer replaced Regis Philbin, from 2012-2016. The pair won the Daytime Emmy for outstanding entertainment talk show host twice during that time.

Strahan previously told PEOPLE that he and Ripa “didn’t really communicate that much” near “the end of it all.”

“I kinda looked at it like, ‘It was what it was.’ I come from a business where you have to collaborate,” he said. “The show was going well? We’re all winning. That’s all that matters to me.”

The Hall of Famer told Time in January of last year that he hadn’t spoken to Ripa “in a long time.

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