Michele Tafoya will work her final game as NBC’s NFL sideline reporter at Super Bowl LVI, the network announced on Tuesday.
"My time with NBC Sports has been the most satisfying of my career," she said in a news release. "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. 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 325th game as an NFL sideline reporter for Sunday’s Pittsburgh-Kansas City playoff game, which NBC said is the most national primetime games for any NFL sideline reporter.
This will be Tafoya’s fifth Super Bowl. She grew up in Manhattan Beach, California, less than 10 miles from the site of the game in Inglewood.
Tafoya has been with NBC Sports since 2011.
NBC released a series of statements from her co-workers as well as from Hall of Fame quarterbacks Brett Favre and Peyton Manning:
Fred Gaudelli, Sunday Night Football 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, Sunday Night Football 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, NBC announcer — "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, NBC 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 — "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 — "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."