Michael Strahan is finally opening up about what led to his controversial departure from “Live! With Kelly and Michael.”
The host told the New York Times Magazine that it wasn’t his decision to leave the show while also elaborating on the tension that followed with with former host Kelly Ripa.
"The mental aspect of working in TV is like it was in football," he said in response to a question comparing and contrasting being a host and a football player.
"I don’t want to be on the show and feel like everyone else is carrying me. I want us all to be successful. 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," Strahan said.
He added, "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. 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."
The “Times” reporter then noted that he felt as though the “sidekick” comment was an indication of a subtle jab at his experience hosting alongside Ripa.
"It was an experience!" he said with a laugh.
The former New York Giants player admitted he was blindsided by the network's decision for him to exit the show.
On April 19, 2016, Strahan announced he was moving onto “Good Morning America,” a decision he claims wasn't his to make. His announcement was followed by Ripa's abrupt week-off that many speculated was a form of retaliation at her co-host.
At the time, Ripa told PEOPLE that it was Strahan’s choice to leave and though she was happy for him, she also felt “betrayed and hurt.”
Their friendship never recovered, but now, Strahan is clearing the air.
"When it was time to go, it was time to go. Certain things that were going on behind the scenes just caught up," Strahan said admitting that the departure “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," he explained.
“It was really not a choice. It was a request," he added. "But 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."
Regardless, Strahan said he was grateful for the experience and that he “learned so much from Kelly.”
"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," he explained.