Jim Fassel’s death came as a shock to one of his former stars.
Michael Strahan, who played under Fassel during his seven years as Giants head coach, paid tribute to him Tuesday on “Good Morning America.” Fassel died Monday at the age of 71 after suffering a heart attack.
“Big part of my life. Just a great man, great coach, and he will be missed,” Strahan said on GMA. “But I was definitely shocked this morning to find out this news, and I just want to send my love and condolences to his family. A great man. I enjoyed every minute with him as my coach and after my career when we used to continue to stay in touch and talk.”
Strahan, the 49-year-old Hall of Famer, was a part of the 2000 Fassel-led Giants team that reached Super Bowl XXXV, where they lost to the Ravens. That was the season Fassel made his famous playoffs guarantee the day before Thanksgiving with the team sitting at 7-4 after two consecutive losses.
“This is a poker game, and I’m shoving my chips to the middle of the table,” Fassel said. “I’m raising the ante, and anybody who wants in, get in. Anybody who wants out can get out. This team is going to the playoffs, OK? This team is going to the playoffs.”
The following season, Strahan broke the NFL record for most sacks in a season with 22.5. Strahan had five double-digit sack seasons under Fassel, including an NFL-best 18.5 sacks in 2003.