Michael Strahan is speaking out about his controversial departure from “Live! With Kelly and Michael”, admitting he understands his former co-host’s feelings of being “blindsided” by the sudden news the former NFL star would be exiting the talk show and joining “Good Morning America”.
“The most disappointing thing to me was that I was painted as the bad guy, because I value the way I carry myself,” Strahan tells People. “I don’t want people to see me as ‘Oh, he just ran out, just left them there.’ That’s just not true.”
The move — which ABC network boss Ben Sherwood subsequently admitted could have been handled better — reportedly left Ripa shocked and reeling as news emerged that she was the last to know of the network’s decision to shift Strahan into the new gig.
The fallout led to a rift between the former co-hosts, which Strahan admits is not what he intended. “I wasn’t surprised by her reaction at all, but I can’t control somebody else’s actions,” he tells People. “I was there four years, and it’s about more than just being in front of the camera.”
However, Strahan hints that the relationship had become strained toward the end of his tenure on the show: “At one point I think we were friends. I don’t know what happened at the end. I learned a lot from her, though,” he says. “Toward the end of it all, we didn’t really communicate that much. I kinda looked at it like, ‘It was what it was.’ I come from a business where you have to collaborate. The show was going well? We’re all winning. That’s all that matters to me.”
You can read more of Strahan’s interview in the new issue of People, on newsstands Friday.