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Sunday, July 23, 2006

More On Michael Strahan’s Divorce

Regardless of how this ugly matter turns out, I do hope Michael Strahan’s not one of those "Down Low" brothas. Yikees!

NEWARK NJ (UPI) — The nasty divorce between New York Giants Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan and his soon-to-be ex-wife is stunning even seasoned divorce lawyers.

The case features sordid details like adultery, beatings and rampant overspending of money, the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger reported. The highly public case, taking place in Superior Court in Newark, is a culmination of 17 months of a very bitter battle between a couple, who once projected a clean, wholesome image.

Accusations include Michael Strahan’s alleged “alternative” affair with television doctor Ian Smith, an accusation that Michael Strahan secretly videotaped his sister-in-law getting undressed and Michael Strahan’s allegation that Jean Strahan cheated on him with other women, the newspaper said.

The case, far from settled, has turned into a spectacle that most celebrities try to avoid. Michael Strahan, who once appeared in television commercials for Campbell’s Chunky Soup, is trying to refurbish his image with the help of Sports Media Challenge, a firm that helps athletes deal with the press.

NY Giants Michael Strahan Explains His Side Of Sad Divorce

It reads like his wife's trying to dig up every bad black male stereotype she can think of. Well, something triggered the whole deal.


Giants football star Michael Strahan calmly tells Daily News he wants divorce to be dignified, especially for the sake of his 5-month-old twin girls.

Two years ago, Michael and Jean Strahan were lovingly restoring Montclair mansion

No, Michael Strahan says, there was no mistress in Toronto, no hanky-panky in Jacksonville. No road rage on the Garden State Parkway. No psych test mandated by the New York Giants.
He loves his twin baby girls and plays a big role in their lives.

He didn't dump his wife because she doesn't like rap.

And no, Michael Strahan, says, he is not interested in getting into a bloody public brawl with his estranged wife, Jean.

"Despite all this, I still like her," he says. "I still respect her. I love her."

In an exclusive interview with the Daily News, the football star says the marriage is over but he wants to end the relationship with dignity for the sake of his family - and especially for his 5-month-old daughters.

"You realize that everything really boils down to them," he says. "If I were a man without kids, without family, then this would be, 'Hey, you want to duke it out, let's duke it out.'

"But I got kids. I got nephews. I got nieces. I got a mother and father and brothers and sisters. And Jean has the same. And I think just for our families' sake, I don't want to slug it out.

"I'm not looking to fight, because I think our families are going to be the biggest losers in this. And to me, it's not worth it."

The 13-year National Football League veteran says he feels compelled to set the record straight because he feels his wife has taken some dishonest, painful shots since their marriage - which looked like a fairy-tale relationship to his friends and fans - collapsed in the 10 days since Jean Strahan called police to their Montclair, N.J., mansion.

She claimed he threatened to beat her.

Michael Strahan quickly filed for divorce, claiming his wife withdrew $3.3 million from their bank accounts. Jean Strahan slugged back, claiming in court documents that he had affairs with two women, rammed a slow-moving driver with his Cadillac Escalade on a Jersey highway, spends no time with his girls and was forced by the Giants to undergo psychological tests.

Last week an Essex County, N.J., judge dismissed Jean Strahan's abuse claims but admitted into evidence photos she says were taken after he abused her years ago.

Michael Strahan, dressed casually in a dark shirt and slacks as he sat in the Chelsea offices of a media consultant, calmly rejected her other claims during the interview with The News.

There wasn't a girlfriend in Toronto, as his estranged wife claims, and no affair in Florida during Super Bowl week, he says.

"I don't know why she would say that," Strahan says. "I never gave her any reason to say that.

"I don't have anybody in Florida. I don't have a girlfriend in Toronto."

Strahan says his wife's claim that he rammed another car with his sport-utility vehicle isn't true, either.

"We were on our way to dinner, and we got into a car accident," he says. "But it was just that - a car accident. I can't imagine being mad enough to wreck my own car. ...

"The police were called, a report was filed, officers came. My demeanor was calm, as it always is."

The Giants, he adds, didn't make him undergo psychological testing after the incident. "I've never had a psychological evaluation by anybody," he says.

Strahan also denies his wife's allegation that he spurned his family after she gave birth to their babies last fall. Jean Strahan says he ignores their kids and turns his back to her in bed.

In court papers, she claims he "looks for excuses to absent himself from our house, playing in every imaginable golf tournament, participating in every boondoggle to Las Vegas, shooting the pilot for a television show in Los Angeles."

But Strahan says he's been part of his girls' lives since the day they were conceived. He was injured in the middle of the last NFL season, which gave him a lot of time to spend with his daughters.

"I've been strapped with a Baby Bjorn for more hours than I can remember," the 275-pound football star says, referring to an infant carrier.

"It was a totally great experience," Strahan says of the birth of his girls. "They're fun. They're two totally different personalities. One sleeps quite a bit, and the other stays awake all the time.

"They like to hold hands. It's the most amazing thing to have twins."

Strahan laughs when asked about his wife's allegation that he left her because she didn't share his taste in hip hop.

"If you're in love with somebody, it doesn't matter what kind of music they listen to," he says. "Actually, I'm grateful for Jean teaching me to like Waylon Jennings, the Bellamy Brothers, James Taylor, all those good people I wouldn't have listened to without knowing her."

The grid star looks remarkably at peace for a man whose image was eviscerated for days last week.

He credits his cool to the support he's received from his teammates and other NFL pals, and from family and friends. Strahan says the rips he's gotten have been fortunate in one sense: He's heard kind words from friends he hasn't spoken to in years.

"I feel compelled to say something publicly because it involved my family in a very private matter that is now very public. Hopefully, this will end it, and everybody will respect that it is a private family matter," Strahan says.

Anger and frustration flare, however, when he talks about what he calls unfair treatment in the New York Post, which his camp says is serving as a mouthpiece for Jean Strahan and her attorney.

"If you're going to write a story, I'd prefer that it at least be true. If it's not true, you shouldn't write it," he says.

Strahan is a lock for Canton - the football hall of fame. The defensive end set a league record for sacks in a season in 2001. But like Joe Namath, Walt Frazier and Derek Jeter, he's more than an athlete - he's one of those rare New York stars who seems to transcend his sport.

He's a regular on the TV sports talk shows, a Chunky Soup pitchman and a tireless worker for good causes.

In an era when many people assume athletes are self-absorbed jerks, Strahan has always been known as one of the good guys. And he says nothing has changed.

"I think it's pretty hard to fool people for 12 or 13 years," Strahan says. "I'm the guy who everybody knows - the guy who's been in New York for 13 seasons."

The couple married in 1999 and became one of New York's hottest sports couples, a fixture at charity events and on the gossip pages. Michael called Jean his rock and admits he still has warm feelings for her.

But the marriage, he adds, is definitely over. It wasn't the pressures of an NFL career - the public spotlight. There isn't any one thing he can pinpoint as the fatal wound.

"I can't particularly look back at any event and say, 'Okay, this was the moment that things weren't working out.' I don't think it was like that," he says.

"It was just, over the course of time, things deteriorated.

"It's a marriage that in the long run didn't turn out with the fairy-tale ending."

Although the judge threw out a restraining order that barred him from his home, Strahan says he won't return because he doesn't want to disrupt his little girls' lives.

Strahan, on the advice of his lawyer, won't talk about what happened at his Montclair home on March 10. He won't talk about the $3.3 million he says in his divorce papers Jean Strahan swiped. He just hopes the split can be handled with maturity and grace.

"We owe it to each other to respect our kids and their future and their privacy - to end this in the right way," he says.

"If you end it the right way, it still allows you to both be a great influence in your kids' lives, and I think that is very important."

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