Once upon a time in New York, Michael Strahan was a dominant defensive end who captured quarterbacks and captivated fans with a winning smile and gift of gab.
New York Giants first-round rookie pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux boasts the potential to do much the same, and Strahan has quickly become an engaged supporter of Big Blue's prized prospect.
"I believe we got a good pick who's going to bring some joy to Giants fans for some years to come," Strahan told former Giants teammate Tiki Barber in a recent appearance on WFAN Sports Radio's Tiki & Tierney. "I just hope he'll allow me to help him as much as I can if there's anything he needs."
So far, Strahan has been a "great mentor" to Thibodeaux, according to the Oregon product.
The two met prior to Thibodeaux being selected No. 5 overall by the Giants in the 2022 NFL Draft and things have moved on from there with the former Duck landing in the Big Apple.
"I met Kayvon while he was in college," Strahan said. "I would reach out and talk to him when he was at Oregon. A great kid, a smart kid."
Thibodeaux received his share of pre-draft doubt for his dedication to football because he's left no doubt that he has lofty aspirations for building his brand outside of the game and after his career. Strahan does not believe any of that should be an issue, as he lauds Thibodeaux's understanding of the business of the game.
"He understands that in order for all those other things to happen, as you and I did, then you gotta be a great football players, because that's your primary business," Strahan told Barber. "Never mess up your primary business expecting for a secondary business to take off. Because at his age, there's no business that's going to be as good for him as football is going to be good for him. And he gets that, he understands it and I think the kid's gonna be a great player."
Though he characterized them as modest expectations, Thibodeaux certainly intends to be a great player from the jump. In an interview with NFL.com's Brooke Cersosimo on Monday, Thibodeaux said he didn't want to thing "too big," but if he was able to average "at least one sack a game," he would "be good."
That would add up to 17 sacks in his rookie season, which would be quite a few notches above good. Strahan, who finished his career with 141.5 sacks, had 17 or more sacks just twice in his Hall of Fame career, which started with a one-sack season showing in 1993.
"Seventeen, 18 sacks? I remember coming out of college and saying I wanted 10. He's a little greedier than I am," Strahan joked. "But I think with this kid, he could possibly do it with the position that he's playing, with his athletic ability. And you know, [new defensive coordinator] Wink Martindale. Wink just sends pressure, baby. Wink does not hold back."
The timing and overall setting just feels right for Thibodeaux to succeed, and Strahan is clearly one of the rookie's biggest supporters and fans.
Getting mentored by a Hall of Famer is a huge boon for any rookie. Being a Giants rookie and receiving high commendation from one of the franchise's all-time greats is quite a start.
Thibodeaux has both.