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'I can't be on the sidelines anymore' | Michele Tafoya reflects on sports career, and her future in politics

Tafoya left the sports broadcasting world after Super Bowl LVI, and announced her new job as campaign co-chair for GOP gubernatorial candidate Kendall Qualls.

EDINA, Minn. — Around every corner of Michele Tafoya's Edina home are mementos any sports fan would envy, like the framed picture of her interviewing Brett Favre after he beat the Packers at the Metrodome. It’s one of her favorite memories in her 10 years as an award winning sideline reporter for NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

“That was a moment,” Tafoya said.

Tafoya's had so many of these moments in her career that her storage room is bursting with them. There are drawers full of sideline credentials for everything from Super Bowl games to Olympic games.

Super Bowl LVI is the last credential she'll add to the pile, because after one last postgame interview, Tafoya walked off the field, for good.

Why would someone with one of the most coveted jobs in broadcast, just walk away? Tafoya said the last few years have reminded her that life is short and she is ready to do something that matters for the greater good.

“I love this country,” Tafoya said, “And am devoted to its exceptionalism and its wellbeing.”

With talk like that, you might think Tafoya is running for office. She says she has thought about it. She’s even been approached to run for governor, but now is just not the right time to put her name on the ticket.

Instead, she will co-chair republican Kendall Qualls campaign for governor.

The recent announcement made headlines, much like her appearance on The View where Tafoya shared her opinions on everything from COVID vaccine mandates to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Shortly after that appearance, Tafoya was not on the NFL sidelines for three games in a row, sparking rumors she'd been suspended by NBC. It is a rumor Tafoya and NBC vehemently deny. Tafoya says when the NFL schedule came out in late spring, she got to choose three games off during the season. She chose cold weather games in open stadiums.

“None of this has anything to do with The View or NBC's decision,” Tafoya said, “None of it. I promise you that.”

Though the headlines annoyed her, she says she does not regret going on The View and she says she’ll go back if she’s invited.

“If someone invites me to give my opinion and say the things that I believe in, I'm not going to turn anyone down and I'm not afraid of the conflict."

In this new phase of her life, you'll see Tafoya in all kinds of new places from podcasts like Megyn Kelly’s to cable shows like Real Time with Bill Maher where she’ll be talking about anything but football. In fact, she says, she doubts she'll even watch much football anymore.

Instead, she will relish being home in Minnesota standing on the sidelines of her children’s baseball and soccer games.

“I have missed so many games,” she said. “I never get those back. And that's a little bit painful to say. But I'm here right now and I'm going to look forward and I want to help in in some way. I've got some plans and I'm still thinking about what exactly that's going to be, but I just cannot, I can't be on the sidelines. I can't be on the sidelines anymore.”


WATCH: Julie Nelson also spoke to Michele Tafoya about her sports broadcasting career in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis in 2018:

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