State Watch

NBC’s Michele Tafoya leaving sports to help GOP governor candidate in Minnesota

Michele Tafoya, a longtime NFL sideline reporter for NBC, on Monday announced that she will serve as co-chair of Kendall Qualls’s gubernatorial bid in Minnesota.

Tafoya, who worked her final NFL game Sunday at the Super Bowl, said it was her “decision” top step away from reporting and move into politics as Qualls, a businessman and Army veteran, runs for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Minnesota.

Tafoya will also participate in the Conservative Political Action Conference, according to a report from The Athletic. The conference is scheduled for late February.

Tafoya initially intended to leave broadcasting after the 2019 NFL season but stayed on until after Super Bowl LVI at the request of Fred Gaudelli, her close friend and the executive producer of “Sunday Night Football.”

“This is all my decision,” Tafoya said to The Athletic. “Everyone at NBC will back me up on that. They have always told me I can stay as long as I want. For me, I have to make my move while I’ve still got the energy to do other things and have an impact. I don’t want to wait.”

“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 added. “But in my position, I was not as free to be as vocal about world events that I’m concerned about.”

In her interview, Tafoya, who has worked more than 320 NFL games as a sideline reporter, including five Super Bowls, added that she wanted to be clear that the decision to move into politics was “not because I was told to shut up” but for a show like “Sunday Night Football” that has been the top prime-time show for more than a decade, “the last thing they want to do is invite controversy.”

She told The Athletic that long-term, she hopes to be part of a weekly program discussing politics and other interests.

Tags Michele Tafoya Minnesota Minnesota governor's race NBC Sports NFL Sports and Politics
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