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Ashley Fox: Eagles won't miss Strahan

Good. That was the collective response inside the Eagles' locker room yesterday. Michael Strahan is retiring after a legendary 15-year career with the New York Giants? Good. As in, good riddance. As in, good luck. As in, goodbye.


That was the collective response inside the Eagles' locker room yesterday. Michael Strahan is retiring after a legendary 15-year career with the New York Giants? Good. As in, good riddance. As in, good luck. As in, goodbye.

See you in Canton, Mike. Have fun with that burgeoning TV career.

If it holds true that Strahan is indeed done wearing shoulder pads - and forgive Jon Runyan if he is skeptical that his nemesis truly is done - the Eagles got a big break yesterday. The offense spent part of the minicamp practice in the suffocating heat working against a scout team defense that was mimicking the Giants. As the news of Strahan's retirement broke, Jerome McDougle wore a red No. 92 jersey. McDougle was Strahan, trying his best to replicate the speed and tenacity of a defensive end who probably will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

"That was strange," McDougle said afterward. "We're out there preparing for the Giants and preparing for Strahan, and he's not even going to be there. I guess a lot of people on our team are happy that he's not going to be in there."

Count Runyan among them.

The Runyan-Strahan battles are legendary. The two are as tough and nasty as any linemen in the league. They've pushed and hit and jawed at each other this entire decade. Theirs was always the matchup to watch each time the Eagles and Giants played.

It was always a given that Runyan was going to do whatever it took to keep Strahan out of the Eagles' backfield and away from Donovan McNabb. Most times it worked. When it didn't, Strahan inevitably told Runyan about it.

Over the years, the two became friends. It happened at one of the Pro Bowls they both attended, two foes sitting down to talk about what made each other tick. It was there that a friendship was formed based on mutual respect and admiration. They weren't monsters, only men who excelled at a violent sport.

Now that Strahan says he is finished four months after winning the Super Bowl, Runyan said his job would be harder. He knows Strahan's every movement and tendency. To prepare for the Giants, he'll have to study harder, watch more film and essentially start from scratch, whether it's Justin Tuck who succeeds Strahan or someone else.

But that doesn't necessarily mean Runyan will miss the 36-year-old Strahan, the NFL's active leader in sacks and the player whom Runyan called his most formidable opponent. He won't.

"I put him up there with Reggie White," Runyan said. "I only played against Reggie once, so [Strahan] is right up there with him."

Strahan never was the fastest player on the field, but he was cagey and quick and understood what it took to gain an advantage on an opponent, then exploit it. He leaves the game with 1411/2 sacks, fifth most among the NFL's all-time leaders, and while Brett Favre's phantom flop in 2001 gave Strahan the single-season record of 221/2 sacks, the accomplishment was not diminished. Strahan was good, scary good, and now he has the chance to walk into the Hall of Fame in 2013 alongside Favre and possibly Warren Sapp.

"He'll tell you he's not the fastest guy in the world, but he's very smart," Runyan said. "He knows how to play the game. If you make a mistake, he's going to take advantage of it. He's very good at that, just being patient, waiting for his time to come, and when he has to make a play, he can."

Runyan was with Strahan only a few weeks ago at NFL Films, working with Steve Sabol on a piece about their rivalry. It was fun, Runyan said, reliving the moments from their past, the victories and defeats, one play at a time.

"I remember all the bad stuff, and he remembers all the times he beat me," Runyan said. "We don't remember all that other stuff. . . . I make the point all the time. He runs around for 60 plays and gets one sack, he had a good day. I give up one sack, I had a bad day. One play, there's a lot more to go into the game than that."

Now, Strahan won't factor into the twice-a-season battles with the Eagles.

Asked if he would miss Strahan, tight end L.J. Smith paused for a moment, then said, "Um, no." He raised his voice an octave, then mimicked what Strahan would say to him: "Come on, L.J., did you have to hit me that hard?"

"From our point of view," Smith said, "it's definitely going to be a little easier without him."

Added offensive tackle Tra Thomas: "Yeah, yeah, we're going to miss him, but a part of us is going to be like, 'All right, good.' "

Good. Yes, that's what the Eagles thought yesterday. Good night, Michael Strahan. Thanks for coming, but we're glad you're gone.