Michael Strahan spoke out about Kelly Ripa and revealed that he was actually asked to leave Live prior to the former friends’ now infamous feud that spilled over in the wake of his departure for the morning show in 2016. Michael got candid about leaving the series and his relationship with Kelly in a new interview with The New York Times, where he claimed it was actually a “request” that he leave the show, which was then called Live with Kelly and Michael, for his current gig as a co-host on Good Morning America.
Michael appeared to claim that he never really felt as though he was Kelly’s equal during the four years he sat alongside her on the morning show, which is now titled Live with Kelly and Ryan and sees Kelly sit alongside Ryan Seacrest.
“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 said, calling it “an experience.”
Speaking about all the drama that followed his high-profile exit, Michael said that the people responsible for how things were handled “have all apologized,” though he added that “a lot of the damage had already been done.”
The former football player added that he believes his departure should and could have been “handled better” and also claimed that it wasn’t exactly his decision to leave for his current role on Good Morning America. At the time, it was largely speculated that it was solely Michael’s decision to jump ship, though he denied that.
“I was asked to do it by the people who run the network,” he claimed, describing his move as “really not a choice” but “a request.”
“But it was treated as if I was the guy who walked in and said, ‘I’m leaving,'” he added.
The star also got more candid about his thoughts on Kelly in the new interview after previously admitting last year that he and his former co-worker actually haven’t spoken to one another in a long time.
“If people think, ‘Oh, he hates her’ — I don’t hate her,” he said while referring to their widely publicized feud.
Michael then added, “I do respect her for what she can do at her job. I cannot say enough about how good she is at her job.”
The star also claimed that he pushed to have better communication with the star during his time on Live with Kelly and Michael and even tried to have regular meetings with Kelly. However, according to Michael, she allegedly decided after a few sessions together that she “didn’t want to meet” with him.
The twosome’s former friendship famously exploded back in April 2016 after it was revealed that Michael was leaving the show. Kelly claimed that she was blindsided by the news and only been told about his departure a few minutes before the news was made public.
She then missed several shows after the news was announced before eventually returning and addressing the drama with a pretty lengthy statement about respect in the workplace.