Michael Strahan Says Leaving 'Live' for 'GMA' Was Not a Choice: 'It Was a Request'

The TV personality also opens up about his tense relationship with Kelly Ripa.

Michael Strahan is explaining more of his side of the story as to why he left Live With Kelly in 2016. The 48-year-old former football star exited the talk show abruptly, leaving a disgruntled Kelly Ripa behind for a co-host spot on Good Morning America

In a new profile for The New York Times, Strahan opens up about his time working with Ripa and his departure from the talk show. 

"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.' I thought I was coming here to be a partner," he explains before the interviewer asks if he's referring to Live! With Kelly and Michael. 

"It was an experience!" he replies, laughing. 

Noting that his departure "could have been handled better," Strahan adds, "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.' That part was totally misconstrued, mishandled in every way." 

David Steele/Disney-Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Strahan says that those responsible for how his exit from Live was handled "have all apologized," but notes that "a lot of the damage had already been done." 

While he was still on the show with Ripa, Strahan recalls trying to have regular meetings with his co-host. 

"We met a few times, and that was fine," he says. "But then eventually she said she didn’t need to meet. Can’t force somebody to do something they don’t want to do."

He does praise Ripa for her work, saying, "If people think, 'Oh, he hates her' — I don’t hate her. I do respect her for what she can do at her job. I cannot say enough about how good she is at her job."

Last year, Strahan told Time magazine that he hasn't spoken to Ripa "in a long time." 

"I learned through all that went down with that, you can’t convince people to like you," he said.

Here's more on Strahan's departure from Live