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Strahan says holdout has nothing to do with money, rather his own doubts

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -Seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan said his holdout with the New York Giants has nothing to do with money and everything to do with uncertainty about whether he wants to return for a 15th NFL season.

"When an athlete like myself who does what I do for a living starts having doubts, then it's time to take a step back and seriously consider my future," Strahan said in an open letter to New York Giants fans that was distributed via e-mail by his agent, Tony Agnone, late Sunday.

"Anyone who plays in the NFL with doubts or second guessing is not only putting themselves at risk, but their teammates also," Strahan said. "I will never do that."

Strahan's absence has been the focal point of Giants training camp since the team reported to the University at Albany on July 27. He has missed 10 days and the team has fined him $14,288 daily.

The 35-year-old Strahan insisted the holdout has nothing to do with his recent divorce. A judge awarded his former wife $15.3 million. He has paid half that amount, and an appellate court granted him a temporary stay while it considers whether the award was too much.

Strahan, who is to make $4 million this season, said the belief that he is holding out for more money is "nonsense." He said that football has been good to him and he is set for life financially.

Strahan said his current decision is one of the biggest of his football career. He said he knew he would face it one day, but admitted he never realized how impactful and painful it would be.

"I was hoping to make this personal decision quietly and without much hoopla, but given the recent torrent of erroneous media reports and totally inaccurate assumptions, I feel that I have to come forward and publicly set the record straight," he said.

The NFL's active sacks leader with 132 1/2 and the season record holder with 22 1/2, Strahan said he worked very hard in the offseason after missing most of the second half of 2006 with a foot injury. He said his body was in great shape and he had every intention of playing until he started asking himself whether he wanted to play.

Strahan said that Agnone and the Giants discussed his contract earlier this year but it is not the reason for his holdout and it won't factor in his decision.

"Despite what some might believe there are those of us who make decisions that have nothing to do with money," Strahan said. "Many athletes ask themselves daily if they are emotionally and psychologically at the level where they can compete at the highest level for twenty-four weeks.

"For them also it isn't about the money, rather a serious athlete asking serious questions about his future," he wrote. "All that I ask, after fourteen seasons, is that you afford me the patience so that I might arrive at my decision on my own terms."

Co-owner John Mara has said the Giants will not renegotiate Strahan's contract, and general manager Jerry Reese added the team wishes him well if he walks away.

Strahan said he didn't blame the team for considering other options in case he retires.

Veteran defensive Simeon Rice, who Strahan has criticized as a one-dimensional player, was given a physical last week. He also visited with the Tennessee Titans.

"I know that I am only one player," Strahan said. "I want to express my thanks to the owners and coaches for their extremely kind words about my career as a Giant to date. I have been proud to wear the Giant uniform throughout my professional career. You have my word that I will try to make the correct decision as quickly as possible."

Strahan hoped that Giants fans will cheer him again if he plays and he thanked them for the privilege of playing for them if he retires. He signed off on his letter, "Michael Strahan #92."

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