Michael Strahan talks relationship with Kelly Ripa: 'At one point I think we were friends'

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Michael Strahan is telling his side of the story when it comes to his drama-filled departure from Live! in May.

The 44-year-old Good Morning America co-host gets candid about his now less-than-friendly relationship with his former Live! co-host, Kelly Ripa, in a new interview, and says he's not "the bad guy." ABC was widely criticized for not giving Ripa the heads-up that Strahan was leaving Live! to co-host GMA, before Strahan announced it suddenly in April.

"The most disappointing thing to me was that I was painted as the bad guy, because I value the way I carry myself," Strahan tells People. "I don't want people to see me as 'Oh, he just ran out, just left them there.' That's just not true."

See photos of Kelly and Michael together:

22 PHOTOS
Michael Strahan & Kelly Ripa
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HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 22: TV personalities Michael Strahan (L) and Kelly Ripa attend the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 12: Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan attend the ceremony honoring Kelly Ripa with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 12, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Michael Strahan as Luke Skywalker and Kelly Ripa as Princess Leia Organa attend the Hallowe'en photocall for Live! with Kelly and Michael on October 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Michael Strahan as Left Shark and Kelly Ripa as Katy Perry on the Super Bowl Halftime Show attend a photocall outside the Live! with Kelly and Michael Studios on October 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 12: Michael Strahan, Kelly Ripa and Michael Gelman attend the ceremony honoring Kelly Ripa with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 12, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 22: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS, SPECIAL RATES APPLY) Michael Strahan and Kelly Ripa attend the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 22, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/VF15/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: Hosts Michael Strahan and Kelly Ripa pose for a photo at the 'Live With Kelly & Michael' Halloween Show at Live with Kelly And Michael Studio on October 31, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: TV personalities Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan attends the Oscars held at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 19: Kelly Ripa (L) and Michael Strahan attend the 2013 CNN Heroes at the American Museum of Natural History on November 19, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 19: (L-R) Event host Anderson Cooper, and TV personalities Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan attend the 2013 CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute at The American Museum of Natural History on November 19, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 28: (L-R) TV personality Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan attend the Broadcasting And Cable 23rd Annual Hall Of Fame Awards dinner at The Waldorf Astoria on October 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL -9/5/13 - Arsenio Hall and Jennifer Hudson are guests on 'LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by David Steele/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) KELLY RIPA, MICHAEL STRAHAN
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL - 8/1/13 - Bryan Cranston and Poppy Montgomery are guests on the syndicated talk show, 'LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Rob Tannenbaum/ABC via Getty Images) KELLY RIPA, MICHAEL STRAHAN
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL -7/12/13 - Kevin James is a guest on 'LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Dave Steele/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) KELLY RIPA, MICHAEL STRAHAN
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL -7/11/13 - Salma Hayek is a guest on 'LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Dave Steele/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) KELLY RIPA, MICHAEL STRAHAN,
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL -7/9/13 - 'LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Dave Steele/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) KELLY RIPA, MICHAEL STRAHAN
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 05: TV personalities Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan attend the 2013 Newhouse Mirror Awards Luncheon at Cipriani 42nd Street on June 5, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL -5/1/13 - 'LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) KELLY RIPA, MICHAEL STRAHAN
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL -2/26/13 - Using chopsticks to arrange their smiles, Kelly and Michael try out the latest stress-relieving smile therapy, on 'LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) KELLY RIPA, MICHAEL STRAHAN
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL -1/25/12 - LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images) KELLY RIPA, MICHAEL STRAHAN
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 09: 'Live With Kelly And Michael' hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan attend the Kids' Night on Broadway 2013 press conference at August Wilson Theatre on January 9, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/FilmMagic)
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WATCH: Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan's 7 Most Awkward Moments During Her Return to 'Live!'

"At one point I think we were friends," he adds about his relationship with Ripa. "I don't know what happened at the end. I learned a lot from her, though."

As for Ripa's reaction to his departure -- calling out of work the rest of the week -- Strahan says he "wasn't surprised."

"I wasn't surprised by her reaction at all, but I can't control somebody else's actions," he explains. "I was there four years, and it's about more than just being in front of the camera."

The former football pro admits their one-time friendship isn't the same anymore.

"Toward the end of it all, we didn't really communicate that much," Strahan shares. "I kinda looked at it like, 'It was what it was.' I come from a business where you have to collaborate. The show was going well? We're all winning. That's all that matters to me."

See photos of Michael Strahan through the years:

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Michael Strahan
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Michael Strahan
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 14: Good Morning America host and former New York Giants Football player Michael Strahan attends an exclusive workout event with Meta at Gramercy Terrace at The Gramercy Park Hotel on June 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Michael Strahan as Luke Skywalker and Kelly Ripa as Princess Leia Organa attend the Hallowe'en photocall for Live! with Kelly and Michael on October 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: TV Personality Michael Strahan attends the Operation Smile's Smile Event at Cipriani Wall Street on May 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 14: Good Morning America host and former New York Giants Football player Michael Strahan attends an exclusive workout event with Meta at Gramercy Terrace at The Gramercy Park Hotel on June 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 19: (L-R) Amy Robach, Josh Elliott, Lara Spencer, and Michael Strahan attend 'Good Morning America's' 40th Anniversary at GMA Studios on November 19, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29: Michael Strahan and Amy Robach at ABC's Good Morning America in New York City on May 29, 2014. Credit: RW/MediaPunch/IPX
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 01: Michael Strahan is seen on Good Morning America on December 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 14: TV personality Michael Strahan attends AOL BUILD Presents Michael Strahan at AOL Studios In New York on October 14, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 14: Good Morning America host and former New York Giants Football player Michael Strahan attends an exclusive workout event with Meta at Gramercy Terrace at The Gramercy Park Hotel on June 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images)
FILE - This Oct. 28, 2013 file photo shows former professional football player Michael Strahan, co-host of "Live with Kelly and Michael," attending the 23rd Annual Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame Awards in New York. Strahan is expected to soon join the cast of ABC's "Good Morning America," at least on a part-time basis. A person with knowledge of the negotiations who requested anonymity because the deal isn't done said Tuesday, April 1, 2014, that Strahan will work semi-regularly during the show's first hour. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Rapper 2 Chainz hosts the annual GMA Ugly Sweater Contest, on GOOD MORNING AMERICA, 12/17/15, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) MICHAEL STRAHAN
Michael Strahan attends the opening night performance of "A Raisin in the Sun" on Thursday, April 3, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0349 -- Pictured: (l-r) Football player Michael Strahan during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on October 13, 2015 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Michael Strahan arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)
Michael Strahan, right, and Maria Menounos arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Michael Strahan as Left Shark and Kelly Ripa as Katy Perry on the Super Bowl Halftime Show attend a photocall outside the Live! with Kelly and Michael Studios on October 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)
Michael Strahan arrives at Fox Sports 1 Thursday Night Super Bash at Time Warner Cable Studios on Thursday, Jan. 30 2014, in New York. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured (l-r): Olivia Wilde and Michael Strahan -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Teenage violinist Yuki Beppu appears on 'Open Mike' to talk about her impromptu concert of Lady Gaga's hit songs during lunch at her high school, on GOOD MORNING AMERICA, 5/1/14, airing on the ABC Television Network. She was surprised by Michael Strahan who gave her tickets to a Lady Gaga concert. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 23: Michael Strahan and Wayne Brady as 'Lola' pose backstage at the hit musical 'Kinky Boots' on Broadway at The Al Hirshfeld Theatre on March 23, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Coverage of GOOD MORNING AMERICA, 3/2/16, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images) MICHAEL STRAHAN, EMERIL LAGASSE
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Teenage violinist Yuki Beppu appears on 'Open Mike' to talk about her impromptu concert of Lady Gaga's hit songs during lunch at her high school, on GOOD MORNING AMERICA, 5/1/14, airing on the ABC Television Network. She was surprised by Michael Strahan who gave her tickets to a Lady Gaga concert. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 14: Good Morning America host and former New York Giants Football player Michael Strahan attends an exclusive workout event with Meta at Gramercy Terrace at The Gramercy Park Hotel on June 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 14: TV personality Michael Strahan and actress Gabrielle Union attend AOL BUILD Presents Gabrielle Union at AOL Studios In New York on October 14, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Michael Strahan on 'Good Morning America,' 6/24/14, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Michael Strahan on 'Good Morning America,' 10/28/15, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images)
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL -8/5/13 - Good Morning America anchor ROBIN ROBERTS joins Michael as co-host today on 'LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) ROBIN ROBERTS, MICHAEL STRAHAN
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 14: Good Morning America host and former New York Giants Football player Michael Strahan attends an exclusive workout event with Meta at Gramercy Terrace at The Gramercy Park Hotel on June 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Michael Strahan surprises Robin Roberts with a Cake Boss cake in honor of her one year anniversary of her bone marrow transplant, on GOOD MORNING AMERICA, 9/20/13, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) ROBIN ROBERTS, MICHAEL STRAHAN, GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, SAM CHAMPION
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 14: TV Host and Actor Michael Strahan attends the exclusive gala event ÂFor the Love of Cinema during the Tribeca Film Festival hosted by luxury watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen on April 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for IWC)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 12: Michael Strahan attends Sports Illustrated's Fashionable 50 NYC Event at Vandal on April 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 28: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS, SPECIAL RATES APPLY) Steve Tisch and Michael Strahan attend the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 28, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/VF16/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 22: Michael Strahan attends Webster Hall on February 22, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber of 'Fuller House' are guests on 'Good Morning America,' 2/24/16, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Fred Lee/ABC via Getty Images) SAM CHAMPION, MICHAEL STRAHAN, ROBIN ROBERTS, GEORGE STEPHANOPULOS, LARA SPENCER
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - CJ, the German shorthaired pointer who won the 2016 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, gets brushed by Michael Strahan on GOOD MORNING AMERICA, 2/17/16, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) Co-owner and breeder VALERIE NUNES-ATKINSON, CJ (DOG), MICHAEL STRAHAN
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 03: (L-R) Kevin Liles and Michael Strahan attend the Wiz Khalifa album listening event on February 3, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Robin Roberts and Michael Strahan on 'Good Morning America,' 1/13/16, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Fred Lee/ABC via Getty Images) ROBIN ROBERTS, MICHAEL STRAHAN
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 16: TV personality Michael Strahan attends Baby Buggy's 15 Year Celebration at The Beacon Hotel on November 16, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 16: (L-R) Journalist George Stephanopoulos, Baby Buggy Founder Jessica Seinfeld, Former professional football player/television personality Michael Strahan, and actress Ali Wentworth attend as Baby Buggy celebrates 15 years with 'An Evening with Jerry Seinfeld and Amy Schumer' presented by Bank of America - Inside at Beacon Theatre on November 16, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Baby Buggy)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24: Former professional football player/television personality Michael Strahan signs copies of his new book, 'Wake Up Happy: The Dream Big, Win Big Guide To Transforming Your Life' at Barnes & Noble at The Grove on October 24, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 14: TV personality Michael Strahan attends AOL BUILD Presents Michael Strahan at AOL Studios In New York on October 14, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13: Michael Strahan appears to sign 'Wake Up Happy: The Dream Big, Win Big Guide to Accomplishing Your Goals' at Barnes & Noble, 5th Avenue on October 13, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Donna Ward/FilmMagic)
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And the father of four says his past as a pro athlete has helped him develop a thick skin against his critics.

"On air, all I could do was control myself," he explains. "In football, New York is the toughest place to play. One day you're the greatest player they've ever seen, then the next game you're the worst."

"I said, 'Hey, it doesn't matter what their opinion is. All I know is I'm doing my best, and I'm giving it everything I have,'" he continues. "I've been in stadiums with 80,000 people calling me all different kinds of things."

WATCH: Michael Strahan vs. Kelly Ripa and 8 Other Celebs Who Didn't Get Along on Set

Meanwhile, 45-year-old Ripa is still looking for a new Live! co-host ... and she's not rushing it.

"The show is going to stick to doing a round robin shuffle of guest co-hosts for the time being," a source close to Live! told ET earlier this month. "Kelly likes the dynamic right now, so they're not in a hurry to make a decision anymore."

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