Sideline reporter Michele Tafoya leaving NBC, jumping into GOP politics

Sideline reporter Michele Tafoya leaving NBC, jumping into GOP politics

The Super Bowl was the last game for NBC’s Michele Tafoya, as the longtime sideline reporter is leaving sports to venture into Republican politics. 

Ms. Tafoya, whose contract with NBC ended with the Super Bowl, will co-chair Republican Kendall Qualls’ Minnesota gubernatorial campaign. Mr. Qualls, an Army veteran and businessman, is one of seven Republicans running to unseat Democratic Gov. Tim Walz. 

Ms. Tafoya announced her move to The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch. 

“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,” she said. “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.”

During the Super Bowl telecast, play-by-play announcer Al Michaels, who also may be departing NBC, saluted Ms. Tafoya for her 11 seasons with the network. 

“We love you,” Mr. Michaels said to Ms. Tafoya, who previously worked for CBS Sports and ESPN. “You’ve been so much fun.”
Ms. Tafoya, who has said in the past that she is pro-choice, told Mr. Deitsch that she identifies as libertarian.

“I think there are a lot of choices that should be left up to individuals and not instituted or not forced upon us by a government that we elect, unless we elect them because we want them to make that choice for us,” she told Mr. Deitsch. “I just don’t think government is about making choices for us in our personal lives.”

Last year, she went viral after saying on “The View” that she did not have sympathy for former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and that “there are two sides” to the kneeling controversy. 

“He didn’t lose everything. In fact, I would say he’s gained a whole lot,” she said on the show. “He is now a leader of a movement. He’s got a Netflix series. He’s got a Nike endorsement.”