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NBC Confirms Super Bowl Is Final Sideline Gig For Michele Tafoya

“Tafoya began her sports media career in 1993 and is now the most-honored national television sideline reporter in U.S. sports with four Emmy Awards.”

Will Dundon

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Michele Tafoya will work her final NBC Sunday Night Football game at Super Bowl LVI on February 13.

Tafoya began her sports media career in 1993 and is now the most-honored national television sideline reporter in U.S. sports with four Emmy Awards.

“My time with NBC Sports has been the most satisfying of my career.  I’ve had the good fortune of collaborating with a team that is amongst the best at what they do, and the support I’ve received in this position has been unparalleled,” Tafoya said. “The list of people to thank is incredibly long, but for now, I will say I am immeasurably grateful to Fred Gaudelli, Drew Esocoff, Al Michaels, and Cris Collinsworth. They are the backbone of the Sunday Night Football family.”

“Some may consider me crazy to walk away from one of the more coveted roles in sports television, and I do not doubt that I will miss many aspects of the job.  But for some time, I have been considering other areas I would like to explore both personally and professionally. I couldn’t ignore that little voice anymore after what we have all endured over the last few years. There’s no better way to walk away from covering the NFL than with one more Super Bowl!”

Tafoya will work her fifth Super Bowl (and 327th NFL game, the most national primetime games for an NFL sideline reporter) at SoFi Stadium just around 10 miles from where she grew up in Manhattan Beach. 

Tafoya’s trophy case has become quite crowded over the years.  She was awarded the Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality – Sports Reporter 4 times, and also received 2 Gracie awards from the American Women in Radio and Television – awarded to “Outstanding On-Air Talent in a Sports Program” for her work as a sideline reporter on Sunday Night Football, and in 1997 for “Outstanding Achievement by an Individual On-Air TV Personality” for her WNBA work with Lifetime.  Along with these awards she has covered some of the biggest events and names in sports including the Super Bowl, Olympics, Michael Phelps, and Brett Favre.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT MICHELE TAFOYA:

Fred Gaudelli, SNF Executive Producer — “No one has performed the sideline reporter role better than Michele in my professional lifetime. She’s as good at her job as Al and Cris are at theirs. Her contributions to Sunday Night Football have been significant and I know she’ll be successful at whatever she chooses next.”

Drew Esocoff, SNF Director — “Michele is the consummate professional and more important, the ultimate friend. I’ve enjoyed every second of our work time together. We will miss her contributions to SNF which have been enormous!”

Al Michaels, SNF Play-by-Play – “Michele Tafoya is the perfect broadcast partner. I’ve worked with Michele on both the NFL and NBA on close to 350 telecasts and she always hits it out of the park. Her preparation is unmatched and her ability to convey what she’s addressing in the moment is flawless. And she does it in the snow or rain or heat or any element you can think of. What she does on the air speaks for itself but what she does behind the scenes in fleshing out stories through the years has been invaluable to me and to John Madden, Cris Collinsworth, Doc Rivers, Hubie Brown and every production unit she’s been a part of. And on top of all this is who she is – brilliant, funny, compassionate, understanding and a mom who just happens to have raised, along with husband Mark, two beautiful children. Working with Michele has been pure joy.”

Cris Collinsworth, SNF Analyst – “I am having such mixed emotions with this announcement.  I am so happy that Michele gets to turn her attention to her passion for changing the world. But, I am saddened at the thought of losing such an important member of our family. Michele makes every day at NBC Sports fun. She can take a joke and she can certainly dish them out. We have all had so many laughs together that at times it is easy to take for granted how incredibly talented she is and how hard she works every day at her craft. Michele is our standard. When topics that require meaningful research and depth of thought come up on Sunday Night Football, Al and I always say the same thing, ‘Let’s go down to Michele.’ Michele, we love you and will miss you badly.”

Brett Favre, Hall of Fame Quarterback – “From Monday nights to Sunday nights, I always enjoyed spending time in the production meetings with Michele. However, my absolute favorite was the postgame interview because we had won the game. Fortunately, I was able to participate in my fair share of those. Michele always kept the focus on the game and asked the questions fans wanted answered. I want to wish her the best in whatever comes next, and congratulate her on a great career.”

Peyton Manning, Hall of Fame Quarterback – “Michele Tafoya is a true professional. During my time in the NFL and even going back to the University of Tennessee, I always enjoyed my conversations with her in production meetings and our interviews on the field. She would bring out the joy in players during her interviews. That is one of her biggest strengths, getting players to talk about their emotions, what they were thinking and all that went into helping their team get a big win. It was always fun talking with Michele after a game because that meant you won and she had a unique way of bringing out all that went into that moment. Michele has done it the right way and done it for a long time at the highest level. I wish her all the best in this next chapter. One heckuva job well done, Michele. Congratulations on an extraordinary run, and I wish you all the best.”

Sports TV News

Pedro Martinez: ‘Never Imagined’ TV Career

“And the reason I’m here, it’s not because of the camera, it’s actually because it gives me an opportunity to remain linked to the game, remain linked to what’s going on, the different changes the game is offering right now, adjusting to different things.”

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As the Major League Baseball season comes to a close and preparations for the playoffs begin, MLB Network and TNT analyst Pedro Martinez joined The Press Box podcast to discuss his time as a television analyst.

When asked what he liked about working in television, Martinez didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“I think it’s a platform and the opportunity I have to bring to the audience what I know, what I think, what I understand and broadcasting gives me the opportunity to continue to have that communication with the people, the young athletes and fans. At the same time, I’m able to continue to learn and transmit some of the things that I would love to show everybody by playing but my body doesn’t allow me, but my mind does.

“This is a great way to bring the right information to the people, but I take advantage of the platform to communicate with my fanbase, the player’s fanbase, and the voice behind the players and the situations that come up, I can actually teach the audience some of the things that I understand from my point of view.”

A media career was never in the cards for Martinez. At least that’s what he thought during his playing career.

“I swear to god, it’s the only thing I never imagined. I never thought I would like being in front of a camera,” Martinez said. “And the reason I’m here, it’s not because of the camera, it’s actually because it gives me an opportunity to remain linked to the game, remain linked to what’s going on, the different changes the game is offering right now, adjusting to different things.

“You learn so much just by having access to information, having access to so many other different things. A lot of people would be surprised how much you can dig into and I think for everybody else, if they knew the kind of information we have access to, they’d be intrigued to come do what we do.”

He then said one of the things he would have never picked up on was how many pitchers tip their pitches, but due to all of the information, video, and relationships broadcasters have make that information readily available. He added his work in television has enabled more relationships with baseball players from his home country, the Dominican Republic.

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Sports TV News

Stephen A. Smith and Malika Andrews Get Heated Over Ime Udoka Coverage

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, I listened to you,” Smith interjected, “you’re the one telling me to stop on my show. It ain’t happening.”

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Stephen A. Smith, Malika Andrews

On Friday’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith continued his stance regarding the public leaking of information surrounding Celtics’ Head Coach Ime Udoka relationship with a team staffer. He also went further by sharing his dismay that Udoka was seemingly the only person punished for the violation of company policy.

“Only he is in violation of the company policy?” Smith asked. “The woman who elected to have a consensual relationship with him is not in violation?” 

Before the end of the show, ESPN NBA Today host Malika Andrews called in the program and wanted to address Smith’s comments.

“Stephen A., with all do respect, this is not about pointing the finger. Stop,” Andrews said. “The fact that we are sitting here debating whether somebody else should have been suspended or not, we are not here, Stephen A., to further blame women.”

Smith would replay saying that his intention was not blame anyone outside of the Celtics coach.

“First of all, let me be very clear, I don’t appreciate where you’re going with that, I’m not blaming anybody but Ime Udoka,” Smith stated. “The fact of the matter is, he deserves to be fired if they were going to fire him. If you’re not going to fire him, then don’t fire him. My issue is all of this being publicized.”

Andrews tried to jump back in for further commentary but Smith stopped that and noted he didn’t appreciate being interrupted on “my show”.

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, I listened to you,” Smith interjected, “you’re the one telling me to stop on my show. It ain’t happening.”

Andrews did thank Smith for clarifying his stance at the end of the segment. ESPN has removed access to the video from its YouTube channel by making it private.

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Rich Eisen on Tom Brady Joining FOX: ‘I Gotta See It to Believe It’

“I think what Peyton Manning has done with his post-playing career is more of a blueprint that I would think Brady would follow.”

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Is 2023 the year we see Tom Brady in the broadcast booth for FOX? Rich Eisen isn’t so sure.

“I still gotta see it to believe it, I’ll be honest with you, man. I know it’s a great chunk of change and it’s a lot of money. I don’t know,” the NFL Network icon said on the most recent edition of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast.

Tom Brady has taken his foot off the gas in 2022 in a more public way than fans are used to. He voluntarily missed eleven days of training camp and has announced that he will not be available to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesdays during the season.

Eisen says if Brady is looking for a less demanding career, broadcasting isn’t the best option.

“It is a lot of work. And I’m not saying Brady’s not up for it, but if he’s been grinding for 23, 24 years, it’s still a grind in its own way.”

FOX signed Brady to a ten-year deal reportedly worth $375 million to start after he retires. He will be in the network’s top broadcast booth and also serve as an ambassador for the network’s coverage of the NFL.

Eisen says there is a much better model for Brady’s media career in his old rival Peyton Manning.

“I think what Peyton Manning has done with his post-playing career is more of a blueprint that I would think Brady would follow,” Eisen said. “Peyton Manning could be making that much money in the booth himself, right? Instead, he’s got his own production company and he’s doing the games, but not all of them, only 10 of them. And he’s doing them from his basement and he’s got the rights to the games!”

He added that Tom Brady “write his own ticket like that” if he chose to do something similar to what Manning has done with Omaha Productions.

Brady has not had much to say about his deal with FOX since the news became public. In June, he told Dan Patrick that he knows his first season in the booth will come with a lot of growing pains.

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