"I didn't know I was supposed to be a sidekick."
Michael Strahan has opened up about his early struggles in television.
During a candid interview with The New York Times, the former NFL player appeared to reference his time cohosting "Live! With Kelly and Michael", comparing his time on the football field with one of his first ventures in the television industry.
"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," he said.
"It was tougher in the TV business to see a certain kind of competitiveness than it was in sports," he added, continuing his analogy without naming Kelly Ripa.
"The mental aspect of working in TV is like it was in football. 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."
One of the sources of tension was his controversial departure from the show four years ago, where Ripa reportedly felt blindsided, but Strahan said it was not his doing, and blamed the higher ups for bungling his leaving three months earlier than expected. He officially departed the show on May 13, 2016 after four years on the ABC talk show.
"It 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. It was really not a choice. It was a request. 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," he explained.
The people responsible apologized, but Strahan said, "The damage had been done."
"When it was time to go, it was time to go. Certain things that were going on behind the scenes just caught up," he added, noting he attempted to fix what was going on behind the scenes during his tenure on the show.
"One thing I tried to do is have a meeting every few weeks with her. We met a few times, and that was fine. But then eventually she said she didn't need to meet," he revealed. "Can't force somebody to do something they don't want to do."
But Strahan stressed he has no hard feelings for Ripa, who is now co-hosting the show with Ryan Seacrest.
"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.
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