Michael Strahan is neither confirming nor denying the existence of a feud between him and his Live with Kelly and Michael co-host Kelly Ripa.
Instead, the former athlete is giving carefully-worded responses in an interview published Monday by the New York Times. As gentle as his answers to the interviewer's question were they also reveal the star wasn't exactly thrilled by the "experience," as he calls it.
To start, Michael says when he first started his career in television, he was surprised by the "selfish" behaviors he witnessed. "In sports, you can put as many great players as you want on a team, but if one guy out there is worried about himself, it will not work. Then on television, I've had jobs where I got there and felt like: Wow, I didn't know I was supposed to be a sidekick," the 48-year-old explains. "I thought I was coming here to be a partner."
Nonetheless, for four years, Strahan diligently performed his duties onscreen, even as he and Kelly struggled to maintain a working relationship behind closed doors.
He reveals at first, he tried to "have a meeting every few weeks with her," and everything "was fine." Then one day, Michael recalls, "She said she didn't want to meet."
"Can't force somebody to do something they don't want to do," he adds.
Of course, their audience and fans were relatively unaware of these happenings, especially since Michael says he refuses to "alter my attitude for somebody else's."
But eventually, the 48-year-old left his post to join Good Morning America, an event that took place at a time when "certain things that were going on behind the scenes just caught up." Upon hearing the news, Kelly called in sick and took a prescheduled vacation.
At the time, E! News exclusively reported Ripa was "livid" upon finding out she was losing her co-host at the same time as the rest of the world.
She later confirmed she was in the dark about the news by making a statement on the show: "What transpired, though, over the course of a few days has been extraordinary in the sense that it started a much greater conversation about communication and consideration and, most importantly, respect in the workplace."
Strahan himself stayed above the fray and let the President of the Disney/ABC Television Group, Ben Sherwood, handle the fallout. "I have most definitely thought about it, and I think that enough has been said about it," Sherwood stated in 2016. "We made some mistakes, we fixed them quickly and we moved on."
Now, Strahan is admitting the situation "could've been handled better."
"I didn't wake up and say, 'I want a job at GMA.' I was asked to do it by the people who run the network. It was really not a choice. It was a request. But it was treated as if I was the guy who walked in and said, 'I'm leaving'," he tells the NYT. "That part was totally misconstrued, mishandled in every way. People who should have handled it better have all apologized, but a lot of the damage had already been done. For me, it was like: Move on. Success is the best thing. Just keep on moving."
With that part of his life now over, the TV host says he has nothing but "respect" for Ripa and her show. He says, "I cannot say enough about how good she is at her job."