Strahans' sad story

The ability to tackle quarterbacks will pave Michael Strahan's path to the Hall of Fame. It's also made him enormously wealthy, transforming his gap-toothed smile into one of the most marketable and recognizable the NFL has to offer. You don't have to search hard to see him serving up soup or dishing out opinions.

But his fame did nothing to protect him from the personal problems that can disrupt the lives of the icons as abruptly as the ordinary. Nor will it do much to protect him from the scrutiny that will trace the progress of what is turning into a potentially acrimonious divorce from his wife, Jean.

"I think it's pretty hard to fool people for 12 or 13 years," Strahan told the New York Daily News. "I'm the guy who everybody knows - the guy who has been in New York for 13 seasons."

Perhaps that's true. Still, the tabloids and lawyers are taking sides in a classic clash of accusation and denial that has cast Strahan in a most unflattering light. It's far too early to tell how a domestic violence complaint filed against Strahan by his wife, stemming from a dispute at their home March 10, will affect him, even though it was dismissed by a judge before it could take root.

While his legal trouble is unlikely to have much affect on his play - certainly not as much as his surgically repaired shoulder might - it could have a dramatic effect on his profile on Madison Avenue, where the big endorsement dollars live.

Corporations are growing ever watchful and weary of associating themselves with those associated with public scandal. Just ask Kobe Bryant about the implications of getting into the wrong kind of trouble.

While the facts continue to sort out, there is news of potentially damaging photos Jean Strahan says were taken after her husband abused her years ago. They've already been admitted into evidence. Strahan had also been categorized in divorce papers filed by his wife as an abusive, unfaithful husband and uncaring father of his infant twin girls, who were born in October.

During her March court testimony, Jean Strahan detailed several incidents where her husband choked or punched her, dating to 1996 when they were still dating. On one occasion she claims he knocked her to the ground and loosened a tooth.

According to documents filed by Jean Strahan's attorney, Ellen Marshall, she withdrew $1.6 million from the couple's joint bank account, placing the money in a separate account to protect her interests. This allegedly caused her husband to "threaten and menace her" at their Montclair, N.J. home. The abuse alleged spitting in his wife's face and backing her up to a wall.

Michael Strahan contends his wife took approximately $3.3 million from their joint account and he wanted it put back.

To counter the claims being made about him, Michael Strahan did the predictable thing. He hired a media consultant, whose job it will be to get his side of the story heard. The Daily News provided the forum. Its interview with Strahan included numerous and adamant denials about a number of issues, including affairs with two women, of being an uncaring parent, or that the Giants asked him to undergo psychological testing after police were summoned following a traffic accident his wife attributed to road rage.

"I don't know why she would say that [about the affairs]," Strahan said. "I never gave her any reason to say that . . . And I've never had a psychological evaluation by anybody."

Jean Strahan also contends that her husband left her because they clashed over music.

"If you're in love with somebody, it doesn't matter what kind of music they listen to," Michael Strahan said.

This picture of the Strahans stands in stark contrast to their public image.

"It's a marriage that in the long run didn't turn out with the fairy tale ending," Michael Strahan said.

They married in 1999 and were actively involved in charities. They opened their renovated 19th-century mansion to the public to raise money for the Junior League and raised nearly $300,000.

But Marshall told the Newark Star-Ledger the marriage, which had been on the rocks for a while, began to dissolve in January after Strahan returned from a weekend liaison. Jean Strahan tried to use the couple's American Express card in March only to discover it had been canceled, an action that was quickly followed by Michael Strahan's withdrawal of $250,000 from their joint savings.

"I would never physically or psychologically harm any of my loved ones, especially my wife," Michael Strahan said in a statement. "That's simply not the man I am. I will continue to respect Jean's privacy and not contribute to a public spectacle of an extremely private matter.'"

And yet, according to the papers filed in Essex County (N.J.) Superior Court by Jean Strahan, her husband once told her not to ask about his whereabouts.

"I'll never tell you where I am going or when I'll be back," he's alleged to have said.

Jean Strahan also contends he once tossed her breast pump into the trash after telling her he didn't have time to spend with her or their twins.

The only thing that appears conclusive at this point is that this is not a situation Strahan or his wife could have anticipated or desired. But fame takes as much as it gives.

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