Michele Tafoya is done with sports, at least for now. With the Super Bowl in the books, the veteran sideline reporter is stepping away from the field and jumping into the political arena.
While she isn’t running for office herself, Tafoya told Richard Deitsch of The Athletic that she will take an active role in Republicans’ bid to claim the Minnesota governor’s office. She will be the co-chair of Kendall Qualls’s campaign.
Qualls is an Army veteran and businessman in the state. He announced he was running in January.
Michele Tafoya will be a guest on this week’s edition of The Sports Media Podcast with Richard Deitch. In the episode, she says that she will make herself available for media appearances on behalf of the candidate. She will also be making an appearance later this month at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando.
Tafoya reiterated in the interview that she was not fired or asked to leave NBC. As has been previously reported, she first approached Sunday Night Football producer Fred Gaudelli three years ago to discuss leaving the show, but chose to stay to get through the uncertainty of the 2020 season.
“I got to a point in my life where I wanted to try other things, and there are some things that are really important to me,” Michele Tafoya says. “This is not to say that sports isn’t an important field, that my job isn’t an important job. But in my position, I was not as free to be as vocal about world events that I’m concerned about. It’s not because I was told to shut up. I want to be very clear about that. But look, if you’re on a show like ‘Sunday Night Football,’ which is the No. 1 show in prime time for 11 straight years, unprecedented, the last thing they want to do is invite controversy.”
Joe Buck: ESPN Is Letting Us Set Tone For Monday Night Football
“It wasn’t well, you are at ESPN, you have to figure out how we do it.”
While Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be calling football games on Monday nights for ESPN instead of Sunday afternoons for FOX this year, fans shouldn’t expect the broadcasts to be that much different, if at all, than what they’ve been used to over the last 20 years.
Buck was recently a guest on the Green Light with Chris Long podcast and said that ESPN knows that he and Aikman have to be comfortable in order for Monday Night Football to be a success.
“I know we are in the honeymoon phase. I’m not dumb. That stuff wears off after a while. They are like ‘however you guys have always done a game, that’s the way we want you to do a game whether it’s with regard to meetings vs. conference calls or when you guys show up, how you like the booth set up. However you want it, we are going to do it your way’ and that’s to their credit. It wasn’t well, you are at ESPN, you have to figure out how we do it.”
Buck and Aikman are obviously already very familiar with each other. Buck said that it will be important not to take that for granted or second guess what they already know.
“I think the one thing Troy and I have to avoid is trying to be different than we’ve been. They hired us based on what we’ve done and who we are and how we relate to each other and the way we see a game,” said Buck.
Mike Tirico, Tom Brady, Manningcast Win Sports Emmys
The annual Sports Emmys were handed out on Tuesday night, and some usual names and new names ended up taking home hardware.
Among the usual names were NBC’s Mike Tirico, who won for Outstanding Personality/Studio Host, and soon-to-be Sunday Night Football broadcast colleague Cris Collinsworth, who was named Outstanding Personality/Sports Event Analyst.
But among the new names as Sports Emmy winners include Tom Brady and both Eli and Peyton Manning.
Brady’s Man in the Arena saga won Outstanding Documentary Series, while the Mannings were rewarded for their work on the Monday Night Football Manningcast, which won Outstanding Live Series.
Here’s a rundown of some of the key Sports Emmy winners:
Here is a full list of winners and nominees for the 2022 ceremony.
Joe Buck Says He Won’t Miss World Series
“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game.”
Among the bigger chain reactions set off by Joe Buck leaving FOX for ESPN was the sudden vacancy in FOX’s main MLB broadcast booth.
The 2022 World Series will mark the first time since 1995 that Buck will not be on the microphone.
Speaking to Chris Long on his podcast Green Light, Buck hopes to be in a more exotic location watching World Series games this fall.
“I would like to be in Cabo San Lucas with a margarita in my hand and a half-smoked cigar watching Game 7 of the World Series,” Buck said. “Cheering on Joe Davis and John Smoltz, and Ken Rosenthal, and Tom Verducci, and Pete Macheska and Matt Gangl and right on down the line.”
Buck added he’ll take pleasure in turning the broadcast off if it’s Game 7 and there’s an insurmountable lead. But the broadcasting legend said even on a bigger scale, not calling any baseball games at all this season, let alone the World Series, is a bit surreal after covering the sport for so long.
“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game,” he said. “And that’s really weird to me, but I walk away really proud of what I and we did.”
He added that he will not miss the opportunity, because he does not feel like he will “leave any unfinished business” in FOX’s MLB booth.
Buck further praised his FOX colleagues and said it was time for a change. He knows Joe Davis will thrive in the opportunity.