When Good Morning America announced they were doing a live show in Philadelphia, everyone was wondering how loud the boos would be for former Giant Michael Strahan. Well, predictably, the city didn’t disappoint. Remember, Eagles fans hate New York only slightly less than Dallas.
Strahan received a few rounds of hissing and jeering as he walked through the crowd on his way to their makeshift stage on the famed Rocky steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There were actually some audible cheers before a native shouts extra loud, “We have one stinking Giants fan!”
During the show, Strahan’s co-hosts Robin Roberts and George Stephanopolous had a Philly-related surprise in store for the Hall-of-Fame defensive end. Jon Runyan, one of the hardest-working right tackles in Eagles history, popped up from the audience and greeted Strahan with a bear hug. As soon as he was introduced, that infectious “E-A-G-L-E-S” chant broke out and Runyan walked to the stage carrying a gift.
“I brought you some kryptonite,” Runyan said, handing Strahan a midnight green Eagles jersey with his name on the back. “Is it burning in your hand yet or what?”
Then, Eagles fans showered Strahan with a hearty round of boos. Strahan returned the favor by giving Runyan a blue Giants jersey, saying: “Philly was my favorite place to play.” He has recalled fondly the fans mooning the team bus when he was in town.
The two rivals often lined up across from one another in the trenches, with Runyan limiting Strahan to 4.5 sacks in 17 one-on-one matchups. There was mutual respect between them throughout their careers. In 2014, Runyan was in the crowd when Strahan was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Eagles offensive lineman received props for being “6-foot-9, 350 pounds of twisted steel and non-sex appeal.”
On Thursday, they continued their long-lasting friendship with some tongue-in-cheek banter. Strahan has long credited Runyan for making him a “student of the game” and calling him the “toughest guy” he has ever had to face on a consistent basis.
“Jon held every play, every single play,” Strahan said Thursday. “This is one of the reasons why I retired. He was a tough guy to play against and he made me a much better player.”
Runyan countered: “You need your nemesis to actually be the hero. He’s made a hell of a career out of running his mouth and he’s still doing it today.”
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Prior to Thursday’s reunion, Strahan and his co-hosts attended Wednesday night’s Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park and threw out the first pitch. Despite being dressed in a Phillies jersey, Strahan was booed mightily when he trotted out on the field. This was Philadelphia after all, there was a reputation to uphold.
All in all, there was more love than hate for Strahan. He posed for pictures with the live studio audience and laughed whenever a boo was hurled his way. Strahan will always be a hated New York Giant, of course. But at least he gets and respects the rivalry.