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Mara: Giants won't use new contract to lure Strahan back

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -The New York Giants are not going to renegotiate Michael Strahan's $4 million contract to persuade the seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end to stop mulling retirement and play this season.

"I don't want to get into negotiating in the media," co-owner John Mara said Wednesday as Strahan's holdout entered its sixth day. "He is under contract and I think you all know what our position is on that. I don't want to make any statements on that."

In his gut, Mara said he feels the 35-year-old Strahan would eventually decide to play, but he said the team was prepared to move on without him.

Veteran defensive end Simeon Rice took a physical for the Giants in New York on Wednesday and met with coach Tom Coughlin and general manager Jerry Reese here after practice. Rice was to have dinner with team officials Wednesday night.

There was no immediate word on whether Rice, who is No. 2 in sacks among active players behind Strahan, would be offered a contract.

Mara downplayed a report that Strahan felt betrayed because the Giants were fining him $14,288 for each day of his holdout.

"He hasn't expressed that to us," said Mara, who said the team had no choice but to dock Strahan. "I'm not sure I believe that."

Strahan's surprising absence has dominated the training camp at the University at Albany since players reported on Friday.

The team knew the recently divorced veteran was looking for more money, but was stunned when his agent said he was mulling retirement.

Had the Giants known that the NFL single-season sack record holder was considering retirement, they might have made moves in the free agent market or drafted differently in April.

"We would have liked to have gotten a little more notice," Mara said. "I understand the fact that he is just undecided about what he wants to do. Sometimes these things happen."

Mara insisted that the holdout has not been a distraction for a team trying to rebound from an 8-8 season that was good enough to get a playoff berth.

"I don't think any of us are that troubled by it," Mara said. "We'd like to have him come in. If he decided to come in, that's great. We will be a better team with him in here. If he doesn't, we'll move on."

Mara, who has known Strahan longer than coach Tom Coughlin and general manager Jerry Reese, has not spoken with him in recent weeks. He said he might reach out and make a telephone call if the holdout continues, but noted that nothing he says will probably influence Strahan's decision. He said No. 92 has to make up his own mind.

Mara's biggest concern would be if Strahan missed a lot of training camp.

"That is something we are concerned about because I have noticed that players who come in late do run a higher risk of being injured," he said. "But he's a veteran. He has been around a long time and always has been in excellent condition. You would like to think that would not be the case with him."

Strahan missed half of last season with a foot injury.

Mara called Strahan one of the greatest players in Giants history and a surefire Hall of Famer. He added retiring now would not be the way to end his career, but he was prepared to accept it if Strahan left football after 14 seasons and 132 1/2 career sacks.

"He has done too much for the franchise for me to be bitter about it," Mara said. "He has been a great player for a long time. These things happen."

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