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Michael Strahan says owners have key advantage in NFL lockout

Former Giant Michael Strahan says NFL owners players will lose if any games are missed. | AP

Former Giant Michael Strahan says NFL owners and players will lose if any games are missed. | AP

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Updated: June 21, 2011 12:20AM

Michael Strahan understands both positions in the NFL labor dispute, and he says both sides will lose if games are missed.

But the seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end for the New York ­Giants also insists the owners have a distinct advantage after the NFL Players Association decertified Friday and the owners locked the players out. An April 6 court date in Minneapolis awaits.

“You’re panicking if you’re a guy who is living paycheck to paycheck,” Strahan said. “You have to remember, every guy [in the NFL] doesn’t make millions. Then you have to remember, some of those guys making millions still live paycheck to paycheck.

“If you’re an owner, you have leverage. That’s where players can get weak, when they start missing checks. That’s when it’s going to get scary for a lot of people. Trust me.”

Ultimately, though, the owners and players will lose if this affects the 2011 season. He recognizes the positions of the owners and players (“I can see where they’re coming from,” he said).

“What I don’t like is, from the beginning it was, ‘We’re at war.’ That’s negative,” he said. “It was tough to go into [the negotiations] with all that testosterone.

“It’s a lot of money, but there’s a middle ground. Find it. Why wait until the last minute? It almost seems like this is the situation everyone wanted to go to.”

Strahan said the owners and players have to be mindful of public perception.

“They both have to give,” Strahan said. “At some point, nobody is going to benefit from this, and I’d hate to see this game — which is more popular than it’s ever been — turn off a lot of people.

“It doesn’t help TV contracts; it doesn’t help player endorsements.”

Strahan should know.

Since retiring in June 2008 after a stellar 15-year NFL career, Strahan has increased his fame off the field by serving as an analyst on the ‘‘Fox NFL Sunday’’ pregame show and as a pitchman for numerous companies, including Subway, Dr. Pepper and Vaseline, as well as co-starring in the Fox sitcom ‘‘Brothers.’’

He has distinguished himself for his willingness to speak boldly without taking himself too seriously, a trait that has him on the cusp of a crossover to a mainstream audience.

Strahan is in the running to replace Regis Philbin on the popular morning show “Live With Regis & Kelly.” He already has co-hosted opposite Kelly Ripa, and he’s scheduled to co-host again in a few weeks.

“I have watched Regis and Kathie Lee and Regis and Kelly,” Strahan said. “He’s been that one common denominator on a great show. There’s no way you replace him. It’s impossible.

“But I’m not intimidated by it. If that opportunity comes along on a permanent basis, it would be hard to say no.”

Strahan isn’t only big in stature (he’s 6-5), but he also has a gregarious personality. He says his goal on TV is to be true to himself but ‘‘not be afraid to laugh at yourself.’’

“I am who I am. I can’t change that. If I haven’t fixed my gap [in his teeth], I’m not doing anything else.”

The single-season record holder for sacks, Strahan, whose final season was 2007, often is greeted by fans who have watched him on TV.

“They don’t know me from football,” he said. “They know I was a football player, but they don’t remember watching me play. They remember the commercials, the interviews or the Fox pregame show. They see me more as a personality than as a football player, which is weird because I spent 15 years getting beat up.

“But it’s been fun having a second career that was unintentional.”

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