Michele Tafoya on ‘The View’ stint and what comes after NBC

Michele Tafoya’s next job will include her opinions.

As The Post’s Andrew Marchand first reported in December, Tafoya will be exiting her role as sideline reporter on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” after Super Bowl 2022 in February. NBC Sports formally announced the move this week on a conference call.

Tafoya said that she has been planning to pivot her career for several years, “to pursue some other opportunities that are really meaningful to me.”

She declined to specify what that next role would be, but was speaking confidently as though what’s next is officially lined up.

“If I wanted to stay in sports television, I wouldn’t be leaving,” Tafoya said. “This is about opening a new chapter for me, so that’s really all I can say.”

Kathryn Tappen is the favorite to replace Tafoya on NFL sidelines, though Tafoya’s NBC colleagues aren’t ready for the current chapter to end just yet.

SNF executive producer Fred Gaudelli, who worked with Tafoya at ABC/ESPN as far back as 2004 and advocated for former NBC Sports boss Dick Ebersol to bring her over to their NFL broadcast in 2011, is savoring her final three games on the sideline.

Michele Tafoya on the NBC sidelines
Michele Tafoya on the NBC sidelines.
Getty Images

“Usually I start out by saying this is bittersweet, but I’m trying to find the sweet,” he said. “I said this a few weeks ago, in my lifetime, I feel like she is the best sideline reporter the NFL has had. Really looking forward to these next three games because they are all big and Michele always performs her best when the games mean the most and I know she’s going to be great in whatever she does next.”

In November, Tafoya appeared on “The View” and made waves when she said she did not have sympathy for Colin Kaepernick. When the crowd jeered her, Tafoya leaned into it.

Asked by The Post what she took away from those appearances on “The View,” Tafoya said they were an opportunity for her to do something different.

“Generally, what I took out of that experience was an opportunity to go and flex some other muscles, and I didn’t get to flex them as much as you’d want to because there was just two days’ worth of appearance and in those two days, you can probably count the number of minutes in which I spoke,” Tafoya said. “But it was an opportunity to just try something different and try something where I get to talk about other stuff. That was enjoyable for me and that was the biggest takeaway.”

Michele Tafoya on the sidelines of Sunday Night Football.
Michele Tafoya on the sidelines of Sunday Night Football.
AP
Russell Wilson (left) and Richard Sherman (right) dine with Michele Tafoya after their win on Thanksgiving.
AP

At NBC, Tafoya’s role was as a reporter, relaying information, quotes and empirical facts to the viewer. Her stint on “The View” was more punditry — not the what, but analysis of the why and the how. Whatever she does next will almost certainly include her opinions.

“I think the safest answer to that is yes,” she said.

The marketplace for sports media members whose ideologies skew from centrist to conservative has grown in recent years. Allison Williams, who left ESPN over an unwillingness to get vaccinated for COVID-19 due to fears it could harm her fertility, was hired by The Daily Wire. Will Cain left ESPN for Fox News, where he is a regular fill-in for Tucker Carlson and was a co-host on the network’s New Year’s Eve special. Fox also bought Clay Travis’ site, OutKick. Jason Whitlock has a daily program for The Blaze.

There are myriad opportunities for a broadcaster of Tafoya’s caliber to share her opinions, and we should be learning exactly where she’ll do so in the coming weeks.

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