Critically acclaimed NFL reporter Michele Tafoya is joining NBC Sports' award-winning "Sunday Night Football" coverage as sideline and feature reporter, Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Sports Group and Executive Producer, "Sunday Night Football," announced today.
"Michele is a versatile and experienced reporter who is well versed in the ways of the National Football League," said SNF producer Fred Gaudelli, who along with play-by-play voice Al Michaels and director Drew Esocoff worked with Tafoya on Monday Night Football from 2004-05 at ABC Sports. "I can speak for Al and Drew when I say that we're all thrilled to be working with Michele once again."
Tafoya is a 13-year veteran of the NFL sidelines, having previously reported for CBS, ABC and ESPN. Her extensive experience also includes covering the Olympics, the NBA, college football and college basketball. She joins SNF just two days after an award-filled night for the franchise at the Sports Emmy Awards.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to work with a group for which I have great respect and admiration," said Tafoya. "I have many friends on this crew and I know how high they set the bar."
This past Monday night, "Sunday Night Football's" production team, led by Ebersol and Gaudelli, won its third consecutive Sports Emmy for Outstanding Live Sports Series; play-by-play voice Al Michaels was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award; Cris Collinsworth won his third consecutive award for Outstanding Sports Personality in the analyst category; and Bob Costas won for studio host for his work on both the Vancouver Winter Olympics and Football Night in America.
"Sunday Night Football" is also coming off a record year for viewership. Last season it was the No. 1 show all 18 nights (100 percent) vs. its competition (16 Sundays, one Tuesday and one Thursday). In 2009, SNF was the most-watched Sunday night primetime broadcast in a then-record 15 of 16 (94 percent) weeks. In 2008, SNF won 13 of 16 (81 percent) Sunday nights. In 2007, SNF won 11 of 16 (69 percent) and, in 2006, SNF won nine of 16 (56 percent).
For the full 2010 season, "Sunday Night Football" was the most-watched primetime show of the fall television season, averaging 21.8 million viewers, a gain of 12 percent from 2009 (19.4 million), marking the best viewership for the NFL's premier primetime broadcast package in 14 years.
Tafoya joins the NBC Sports Group after more than a decade at ABC/ESPN where she saw her profile rise steadily since 2000 through a variety of on-air roles, most notably as a reporter for Monday Night Football and ESPN's NFL studio programs.
After serving as the sideline reporter for ABC Sports' Monday Night Football for two seasons (2004-05), Tafoya joined ESPN's Monday Night Football in 2006. On Mondays throughout the NFL season, Tafoya provided regular updates on the participating MNF teams during multiple ESPN programs, including SportsCenter and Monday Night Countdown, in addition to reporting during the games.
On Christmas Day 2006, Tafoya combined her high-profile NFL and then-NBA responsibilities to complete a rare double, covering the Lakers-Heat broadcast in the afternoon on ABC, as well as the Jets-Dolphins MNF game that same evening on ESPN. A year later, she completed a similar feat, working the MNF season-finale in San Diego on Christmas Eve, followed by the NBA's Suns-Lakers Christmas Day game in Los Angeles on ABC. In the fall of 2008, Tafoya made the difficult decision to step down from her NBA reporter role to spend more time with her family.
Tafoya's versatility included on-air roles for the men's and women's NCAA basketball play-by-play and studio hosting, and college football and basketball sideline reporting. She also has served as a substitute host on Pardon the Interruption and as a panelist on Sports Reporters. Previously, her ESPN assignments included calling WNBA games, hosting skiing telecasts, a substitute host for ESPN Radio's Tirico & Van Pelt Show (now Scott Van Pelt Show) and working on ESPN's college basketball selection shows as a reporter.
Tafoya also hosts The Michele Tafoya Show (3-6 p.m. CT) on WCCO News Radio 830 AM in Minneapolis-St. Paul where she lives.
Prior to ABC/ESPN, Tafoya worked for CBS Sports from 1994-2000 as a game reporter and studio host for NFL, college football and college basketball telecasts. She also hosted CBS' NCAA Tournament selection show, Goodwill Games and U.S. Open coverage, as well as CBS's late-night Winter Olympics programs in 1998. She was also a WNBA commentator on Lifetime from 1997-99.
Earlier in her career, Tafoya worked as a host and Minnesota Vikings sideline reporter for KFAN-AM in Minneapolis (1994-98). During that time she also served as a Minnesota Timberwolves host and sideline reporter for the Midwest Sports Channel and play-by-play commentator for Big Ten women's basketball and volleyball. She also spent three years at WCCO-TV in Minneapolis as a sports anchor and reporter from 1995 to 1998. Prior to her many roles in Minnesota, she previously worked for WAQS-AM in Charlotte (1993), where she was the first female analyst to call UNC-Charlotte men's basketball games.
A native of Manhattan Beach, Calif., Tafoya graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in broadcast journalism and earned her master's degree in business administration from the University of Southern California.
The American Sportscasters Association voted Tafoya among the top female sportscasters (No. 4) in 2009, while the Davie-Brown Index ranked her among the most likeable TV sports personalities in 2006, including "Biggest Trend-Setter." In 1997, The American Women in Radio and Television honored Tafoya with a Gracie Award for "Outstanding Achievement by an Individual On-Air TV Personality" for her WNBA work with Lifetime. Tafoya is also on the Board of Directors for Taste of the NFL, an annual Super Bowl event raising money in support of food banks across the United States.