NEW YORK -- Former New York Giants great Michael Strahan said walking out of the SUV into the studio for "Live! With Kelly and Michael" this morning as the new co-host was more nerve-wracking than walking through the tunnel for the Super Bowl.
"I was hoping not to look clumsy and trip walking in. This is quite surreal," Strahan said after his first official day replacing longtime host Regis Philbin. "I was even more nervous today than my very first football game. But when I was hugging Kelly, that's when I was starting to calm down."
It wasn't that big of a secret as rumors were spreading last week that Strahan, who had been on the show 23 times, was going to be the permanent replacement to sit alongside Kelly Ripa five mornings a week.
"Michael is very good at this. I think he will grow the audience, more women, more men. We'll take everybody," said Ripa, who has been on the show for 12 years. "I think men will definitely have less shame admitting they watch the show."
That is one of the main reasons Strahan was chosen over Josh Groban, Anderson Cooper and Seth Meyers. Strahan will keep his gig as a host of "Fox NFL Sunday" in Los Angeles and then fly cross country for "Live!" at the ABC studios in New York.
"Working on 'Live!' will be fun. I don't consider it a chore. This will just keep me going," said the 40-year-old Strahan, who retired from the NFL in 2007. "You have to remember that you need to be who you really are because you're in someone's home every day. Hopefully, those fans who watch me on Sunday will venture over to see what I'm doing during the week."
Strahan and Ripa both stressed that the show, in its 25th season, will not diverge into more conversations about sports because of Strahan's background.
"I'm definitely going to be talking about the Giants, but I'll bring up the Jets and Tebow and Sanchez and other sports in New York," Strahan said. "I know that Regis brought up Notre Dame a lot, but I won't be bringing up my college [Texas Southern University]. We haven't been winning too many games lately."
Ripa, who is from Philadelphia, said she's gotten some ribbing from friends who said, "Why did you hire someone from your team's rival?"
"I barely understand the game of football. I really just watch the Super Bowl," Ripa said. "But I do know about when athletes start dating. See how Mark Sanchez is dating Eva Longoria?"
Strahan quipped: "That man can definitely throw some passes."