Michael Strahan, 40, the former NFL defensive end for the New York Giants, will face a whole different kind of ball game now that he's permanently teaming up with Kelly Ripa, 41, on the recently renamed ABC morning show, Live! with Kelly & Michael. Though Strahan has been seated in the cohosting chair several times during Ripa's "musical co-hosts" period that followed the television retirement of Regis Philbin, 81, Tuesday morning was the first time Strahan got to call the chair his.

While Strahan is best known for his 15-year career with the Giants, he isn't completely new to television. He's also a co-host and football analyst on Fox NFL Sunday, a position he will reportedly continue to fill even while hosting Live!, which will require him to travel to Los Angeles on weekends during football season in the fall.

When Live! kicked off its 25th season this morning, the 6'5" Strahan made his grand entrance after Ripa did, bounding onto the stage and effortlessly lifting his 5'3" costar Ripa off her feet — far off her feet, to which she remarked, "It's so nice to have a co-host who can literally sweep you off your feet."

Live! producer Michael Gelman, who saw 59 total Regis substitutes host with Ripa during the great auditioning period, immediately saw that "there was definitely something special" in the chemistry between Ripa and Strahan, reports USA Today. "They're able to have this fun, and they have a shorthand together, and it just works. Having him come back all these times made it easier."

Strahan, who is already no stranger to the Live! co-host seat, made his debut with guests Claire Danes of Showtime's Homeland, which returns for season two on September 30, Phillip Phillips of American Idol, and U.S. Olympic gold medalists Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman.

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