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Michele Tafoya: ‘I Planned NBC Exit Before Covid’

“I know for a fact I’m going to miss them and certain little moments tremendously, but you know, this has been in my mind for long enough that I’m really ready.”

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News recently broke that Sunday Night Football on NBC sideline reporter Michele Tafoya planned to step away from the role following the conclusion of Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles.

It is a decision that had been in the making since before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she confirmed to reporters in a conference call earlier this week. When COVID-19 struck the world though, her commitment to the on-air product and her colleagues kept her on the team for seemingly longer than expected.

“When COVID struck and we didn’t know what 2020 was going to be like, I just said, ‘Whatever we’ve got to do to get through this, I want to help,’” Tafoya explained.

Michele Tafoya and NBC chose not to make the decision public. Tafoya never wanted the story to be about her. She wanted it to be about the game on the field each week.

“This is hard for me. This is sad. These are my best friends in the world, this crew,” said Tafoya. “I know for a fact I’m going to miss them and certain little moments tremendously, but you know, this has been in my mind for long enough that I’m really ready.”

While her role has been to talk to players, coaches and personnel to obtain information or opinions about the primetime games on the sidelines, Tafoya recently appeared on The View, where she had the ability to express her own opinion on certain issues, including COVID-19 and the situation surrounding former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Shortly after this appearance, Tafoya did not appear on the air for three weeks. That lead to much speculation that she was being punished for something she had said. NBC said in a statement they were pre-planned bye weeks for her.

Tafoya declined to speak about her future opportunities. She did confirm that her new role, whatever it may be, will give her the opportunity to articulate her personal opinions. That opportunity, though, will not be in the realm of sports television.

“If I wanted to stay in sports television, I wouldn’t be leaving,” Michele Tafoya said.

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NBC Sports Announces Matthew Berry Hire, Will Debut Tonight on Football Night in America

This is truly a full circle moment for me,” said Berry, who served as a fantasy football expert at NBC Sports’ Rotoworld from 1999-2004.

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Matthew Berry

NBC Sports has announced the official hiring of fantasy specialist Matthew Berry. He has agreed to a multi-year deal and will be featured on Peacock, NBC and NBC Sports digital platforms.

The network also announced that Berry will join Football Night in America each week during the NFL season on NBC and Peacock including with his debut tonight leading into the 2022 Hall of Fame Game.

Berry will host a weekly game-day fantasy football and sports betting show on Sundays from 11a-1p ET on Peacock and NBC Sports digital platforms. He will also create a one-hour daily podcast for Peacock, live-listening on NBC Sports Audio and SiriusXM and be available as a downloadable podcast.

We welcome Matthew to the team and are excited to incorporate into our coverage the compelling and industry-shaping commentary that has made him the face of fantasy football for millions of fans,” said Sam Flood, NBC Sports Production Executive Producer & President.

“This is truly a full circle moment for me,” said Berry, who served as a fantasy football expert at NBC Sports’ Rotoworld from 1999-2004. “I started my career at Rotoworld, spent many years there, and not many people are lucky enough to get the chance to come home. I’ve spent my entire life talking fantasy football to anyone that would listen. So when I was offered the chance to join the highest-rated studio show in all of sports, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.”

Berry also added, “Please remind me of this quote the next time I realize millions of people just saw me get a prediction wrong. In the meantime, know that I am incredibly honored and humbled by the opportunity not just to join the FNIA family but also to help build something special on Peacock.”

Berry will provide analysis and content around major NBC Sports events outside of football, including the Kentucky Derby, Indy 500, and more.

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Omaha Productions Building College Football Simulcast Around Pat McAfee

“Manning joked that the network doesn’t want McAfee. It wants Omaha Productions and Omaha wants McAfee.”

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ESPN is bringing its alternate broadcast strategy to college football. Peyton Manning appeared on The Pat McAfee Show Thursday to announce that McAfee and his crew would anchor six alternate broadcasts of major games for Omaha Productions on Saturday nights this season.

“We have officially agreed, alongside Omaha Productions, to simulcast six big-ass college football games this season,” McAfee said. “We will be on ESPN2. The main cast will be on ESPN. Omaha is obviously helping us along the way and we will be running it.”

McAfee said that when he was first approached by Manning he expressed shock that ESPN wanted him on the air. Manning joked that the network doesn’t want McAfee. It wants Omaha Productions and Omaha wants McAfee.

The shows have not yet been scheduled. Most games in college football’s power 5 conferences are not scheduled until the prior week. With the AP Top 25 and CFP Top 25 both changing regularly, they too will play a role in determining what goes into the primetime slot.

Pat McAfee and his crew will be live in their Indianapolis studio. The former punter at the West Virginia University said that the majority of people appearing on the alternate broadcast each week would be in studio, but there would be occasional guests.

“There’s gonna be give aways. There’s gonna be a lot of action I think during this,” he added.

Omaha Productions adds college football to the NFL and the US Open on its roster of alternate broadcasts. The company is also working on a future MMA alternate broadcast.

“I’m honored to be your teammate again, if you will,” Peyton Manning said in response to McAfee thanking him for the platform and opportunity. “You will kill this. You know this. Everybody is fired up to watch. I guarantee it!”

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ESPN Announces Bill Walton ’30 for 30′ Documentary

The Basketball Hall of Famer is viewed as one of the more eccentric figures in sports history.

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ESPN Films announced Thursday that production has begun on a new 30 for 30 documentary focused on Bill Walton.

The Basketball Hall of Famer is viewed as one of the more eccentric figures in sports history. Combined with his basketball prowess in both college and the NBA, and his love of The Grateful Dead, politics and activism, Walton is often a divisive figure in the sports broadcast world.

ESPN says Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Artis Gilmore, World B. Free,  Robert Parish, Jim Gray, Luke Walton, Jamal Wilkes, Brent Musberger, and Bob Ryan have all been interview subjects for the story.

The documentary will be directed by Steve James, who also directed Hoop Dreams, as well as Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.

No release date was revealed by ESPN. Walton has worked as a college basketball color commentator for the network since 2012. He had previously worked on ESPN’s NBA coverage from 2002-2009.

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