EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -Michael Strahan is going out a winner after 15 seasons.
The gap-toothed defensive end who went to seven Pro Bowls and recorded the fifth- most sacks in NFL history ended his almost certain Hall of Fame career on Monday by informing the New York Giants that he planned to retire just four months after helping them win the Super Bowl.
``I know there are a lot of tackles in the league getting excited right now,'' said receiver Amani Toomer, who played 12 seasons with the guy everyone called ``Stray.''
In walking away, the 36-year-old defensive end is passing up the final year of a contract that would have paid him at least $4 million this season.
Tony Agnone, Strahan's agent, said the Giants offered Strahan more money after their stunning 17-14 win over the previously unbeaten New England Patriots in the Super Bowl an effort to get him to play another year.
``Money was never the issue for him,'' Agnone told The Associated Press. ``Really I thought he was going to retire before last season. I'm happy he stayed around.''
Agnone added that getting a championship ring was probably the one thing that convinced Strahan to leave a game in which he might be the best end at playing both the run and the pass.
``He really felt he has a chance to repeat this year,'' Agnone said. ``So it was tough to walk away.''
Strahan told Giants co-owner John Mara on Monday morning that he was retiring, something that he had considered seriously prior to last season.
``I told him he's been a great Giant,'' Mara said Monday. ``He thanked me for everything the organization has done for him. I said, 'I think you've done more for us than we can ever do for you.'''
Strahan never told his coaches or his teammates of his decision. They learned of it from reporters at practice.
``I'm just finding out about it; let me get organized,'' coach Tom Coughlin said after a team workout.
Strahan, who has long said he wants a job in television, plans to hold a news conference Tuesday at Giants Stadium.
Strahan's retirement was first reported by Foxsports.com.
``It was important that my teammates knew which way I was going before they got on the field to start the work to defend our title,'' Strahan told the Web site. ``It's time. I'm done.''
Strahan did not play like someone on the decline He started 15 of 16 regular-season games last season and had 46 tackles and nine sacks.
``The way he was playing, I thought at least he would give it another year or two,'' said fellow Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who said Strahan gave no indication that he planned to retire when the Giants got their Super Bowl rings last week.
``He retired at the top of his game. A lot of us don't get the opportunity to do that.''
A second-round pick in the 1993 draft, Strahan is the Giants' career sacks leader with 141 1/2. Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor had the previous mark of 132 1/2, although that total does not include the 9 1/2 the linebacker had as a rookie in 1981, the year before sacks became an official statistic.
Strahan set the single-season mark of 22 1/2 sacks in 2001, getting the last one in the season finale when Brett Favre mysteriously fell late in the game, and No. 92 got credit for the sack. Favre retired shortly after the Giants' Super Bowl win.
Justin Tuck is the leading candidate to move into Strahan's starting spot.
``The guy has had a great career, 15 years, a first ballot Hall of Famer,'' he said.
Strahan was the Giants' leader in the locker room. He taught the young defensive ends how to play the position. He also spent as much time working out as the youngest free agent trying to win a roster spot.
When the team took the field before games, Strahan was the one in the middle of the pre-game huddle urging them on.
``I knew it was going to (eventually) happen,'' quarterback Eli Manning said. ``He had a tremendous career. If that is the case, he picked a great season to go out on.''

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