NBC Sports reporter Michele Tafoya is leaving her position as a top NFL sideline reporter to take a job in politics.
Her last game with the network was Super Bowl LVI on Sunday, where the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) February 13, 2022
Tafoya is leaving sports behind to join Kendall Qualls as the co-chairwoman of his campaign for governor of Minnesota.
The Republican hopeful announced the move on Monday, saying in a news release that he has been “fortunate to get to know Michele on a deeper level and appreciate her taking time from her busy schedule to help our campaign lead Minnesota in the right direction.”
? BIG Announcement ? Sports broadcaster Michele Tafoya will be joining my campaign as co-chairwoman! I’m excited to work with Michele & hope you’ll join us as we focus on saving Minnesota https://t.co/3gBUoJF9yv
— Kendall for Governor (@KQforMN) February 14, 2022
The 57-year-old Tafoya said in a statement that she was “taking a step back from the sports broadcasting world” and was “honored that my next phase involves supporting Kendall in his run for Governor of Minnesota.”
“Kendall has a clear message that resonates with the issues Minnesotans are facing under the current administration,” she said. “He’s smart and with his background and work ethic, I’m positive that he’s exactly what Minnesota needs in its next governor.”
Qualls is an Army veteran and businessman who ran unsuccessfully as the Republican candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s 3rd District in 2020.
Tafoya talked about joining his campaign in an interview with former Fox News host Megyn Kelly posted to YouTube on Monday.
“I am co-chair now of the Kendall Qualls for governor campaign in Minnesota, where I’ve lived for 25-plus years,” she said on “The Megyn Kelly Show.”
“I’ve been asked to run for governor, Megyn, but this is not the right time,” Tafoya continued. “I have two kids that are in high school and junior high. I want to see — I’ve missed so much. So I want to devote some time to my family, certainly, my husband included.
“But I am willing to step up for this gentleman, Kendall Qualls, and say, ‘We need a change in leadership. We need sensible, reasonable people.'”
She said, “I wake up every single morning, every morning, and there is a tug at my chest, and that tug is telling me, ‘Michelle, you have to help. Somehow, you’ve got to help.’ And I can’t do that in this role as a sideline reporter.”
Tafoya has been on the sideline of more than 320 NFL games, including five Super Bowls, The Hill reported.
She provided a glimpse of her political views last year when she talked about former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on ABC’s “The View.”
Tafoya clashed with “The View” co-host Sunny Hostin over comments that Kaepernick made comparing the NFL’s draft and training camps to slavery.
“I thought comparing it to the slave trade was a little rough. … These guys enter willingly. They are the most well-cared-for people. Yes, they play a hard sport, and every one of them — black, white, Latino, whoever’s playing the sport — will tell you how much they love it and they’re willing to do it and they make a damn good living,” she said.
Hostin countered that it was “not totally unreasonable” to compare the NFL draft to slavery and said the league’s white team owners were keeping Kaepernick from playing again.
Tafoya fired back, “If they believed he could win them a Super Bowl, he would be on a team right now. I promise you that.”
After her comments on “The View,” she was not on the sidelines of “Sunday Night Football” for a few weeks, leaving some to wonder whether she had been suspended.
NBC, however, said it was giving its announcers bye weeks and that any other speculation about why she has several weeks away was “blatantly false,” Fox News reported.
Tafoya was given a warm goodbye after the Super Bowl from legendary announcer Al Michaels, who also is likely leaving NBC Sports, the New York Post reported.
“We love you,” Michaels told her. “You’ve been so much fun.”
Tafoya then blew a kiss to the camera.
Her decision to leave sports reporting has been in the works for some time, she told Richard Deitsch at The Athletic.
“This is absolutely my decision,” Tafoya said. “I gave [NBC] my notice three years ago hoping to be done earlier.”
“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.
“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.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.