Beaming that gap-toothed smile that became his trademark in 15 NFL seasons, Michael Strahan said he understood it was time to go.
The New York Giants defensive end wanted to leave on his own terms, and finishing with a Super Bowl title certainly didn't hurt.
"At some point you have to realize that you've done all you can do, all you need to do," he said yesterday at Giants Stadium at his farewell news conference. "It's over."
Strahan went to seven Pro Bowls and recorded the fifth most sacks in NFL history. On Monday, the 36-year-old star told the Giants he was retiring four months after helping them win the Super Bowl.
Coach Tom Coughlin called Strahan the "consummate Giant."
"He did a lot for the young players," Coughlin said. "He knew how to perform, he knew how to practice, he knew how to play. It has been an honor to coach Michael Strahan."
Strahan said he had more or less decided 2007 would be his last season, and that was before the improbable run to the Super Bowl. Then came the culmination - a last-minute, 17-14 win over the previously undefeated Patriots for the title.
But in the afterglow of the triumph he seriously considered coming back.
"Then reality set in, and I asked myself, 'Do I really want to be committed to working out and training?' " he said. "I said no. Physically, I'm fine. But it takes so much to play this game. This isn't a game where you can take a farewell tour."
He said his plans are unclear, but whatever he does will be easier than football.
Strahan is passing up the final year of a contract that would have paid him at least $4 million this season. Tony Agnone, his agent, said the Giants offered Strahan more money in an effort to get him to play another year.
"Money was never the issue for him," Agnone said. "Really, I thought he was going to retire before last season. I'm happy he stayed around."
Strahan told Giants co-owner John Mara Monday he was retiring, something he had considered seriously before last season. Mara said that without Strahan, the Giants wouldn't have won the Super Bowl or even made the playoffs.
Strahan did not play like someone in decline in his final season. He started 15 regular-season games and had 46 tackles and nine sacks.
He called the Super Bowl victory "the icing on the cake" of a career he began as an unknown second-round draft pick out of Texas Southern who idolized Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor.
Fowler linked to dealerConvicted steroids dealer David Jacobs said before his death last week he supplied Titans linebacker Ryan Fowler with performance-enhancing drugs before and after the 2006 season, according to a report in the Dallas Morning News.
Fowler is under investigation by the NFL in an apparent steroids case.
The paper reported that Jacobs said Fowler credited him for helping get a four-year, $11.5 million contract from the Titans after two seasons with the Cowboys.
"After he got his big contract, he came back, knocked on my door and hugged me," Jacobs said.
The bodies of Jacobs, 35, and Amanda Jo Earhart-Savell were found Thursday in the master bedroom of Jacobs's home. His death was ruled a suicide, and police have said a .40-caliber Glock was found next to Jacobs.
Jacobs met twice with NFL security officials and gave them names of players he said bought steroids from him.