Michele Tafoya Joins Minnesota GOP Governor Candidate’s Campaign After NBC Exit

Michele Tafoyawho worked her final game for NBC on the sidelines of Sunday’s Super Bowl LVI, is leaving sports journalism altogether to join the campaign of Minnesota GOP gubernatorial candidate Kendall Qualls.

Qualls said Monday that Tafoya has come aboard as co-chairman. Qualls is one of seven GOP candidates running against incumbent Minnesota Gov. Tim Waltz, a Democrat.

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“I have 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,” Qualls said. “I’m confident with her reach we’ll be able to connect with people across the state to ensure that all Minnesotans feel as if their needs are being heard.”

As part of her new role, Tafoya told The Atlantic that she would appear on shows that discuss politics, cultural and social issues, as well as attend CPAC later this month, adding that it was her decision to exit NBC. “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 told the website. She said that in her SNF role she 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,” she added.

She made news back in November with two-show guest stint on The Viewtaking on those very topics — ranging from critical race theory and Covid vaccinations to Colin Kaepernick.

Tafoya, who lives in the Twin Cities suburb of Edina after growing up in Manhattan Beach, CA, officially announced her exit from NBC and her role on its flagship Sunday Night Football show in January, had been with the network since 2011. The four-time Sports Emmy winner’s sign off Sunday came covering her fifth Super Bowl, and 327th NFL game overall in a career that spanned three decades and included stints covering the Olympics, the NBA and WNBA, and college football and basketball for NBC, CBS, ABC/ESPN and Lifetime among others.

At the end of Sunday’s broadcast, Tafoya blew a kiss at the camera after short back and forth with NBC play-by-play announcer Al Michaels, who told her “We love you – you’ve been so much fun.”

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