Michele Tafoya chairing political campaign after Super Bowl 2022

Michele Tafoya is leaving sports stadiums for the political arena.

The NBC Sports sideline reporter completed her final assignment at Super Bowl 2022 on Sunday in Inglewood, and is revealing her plans for what’s next.

Tafoya told The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch that she will co-chair the campaign of Kendall Qualls, an Army veteran and businessman who is running for governor of Minnesota as a Republican candidate.

“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,” Tafoya told The Athletic. “This is not to say that sports isn’t an important field, that my job isn’t an important job. But in my position, I was not as free to be as vocal about world events that I’m concerned about.

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Michele Tafoya is trading sports stadiums for the political arena.
Michele Tafoya is trading sports stadiums for the political arena.
Ethan Miller

“It’s not because I was told to shut up. I want to be very clear about that. But look, if you’re on a show like ‘Sunday Night Football,’ which is the No. 1 show in primetime for 11 straight years, unprecedented, the last thing they want to do is invite controversy.”

Tafoya will also appear at the conservative CPAC convention in Orlando later this month, where other speakers include former president Donald Trump, Florida governor Ron DeSantis and Fox News host Sean Hannity.

She had been slated to interview Enes Kanter Freedom, the NBA player who is vocal in his support of global human rights, at CPAC. Kanter was recently traded from the Celtics to the Rockets, and subsequently waived. It’s therefore unclear based on his fluid NBA status whether he can still appear at the conference.

Tafoya’s final appearance on NBC Sunday night elicited a heartfelt tribute from Al Michaels, who is also likely departing the network.

Michele Tafoya at Super Bowl LVI
Michele Tafoya at Super Bowl LVI
Getty Images

Tafoya described herself to Deitsch as a “libertarian.”

“I would go a little more in that direction,” she said. “I’m most conservative when it comes to I prefer a smaller government and I’d prefer a lot less of our tax dollars being spent the way that they are. But I remain pro-choice. In a lot of ways, I think there are a lot of choices that should be left up to individuals and not instituted or not forced upon us by a government that we elect, unless we elect them because we want them to make that choice for us. I just don’t think government is about making choices for us in our personal lives. I really don’t. So if that clears it up, then I think it’s probably libertarian.”

Tafoya’s likely replacement on the NBC sidelines is Kathryn Tappen.

Tafoya made waves on “The View” last year, when she said she did not have sympathy for Colin Kaepernick not getting new opportunities to play quarterback in the NFL.

She denied that this appearance was the reason why she missed several “Sunday Night Football” games late in the season, saying that she and Al Michaels had bye weeks written into their deals, and that she strategically avoided cold venues like Baltimore and Green Bay.

Tafoya’s job at NBC was the gathering and dissemination of empirical facts. In January, at the NBC conference call announcing Tafoya’s retirement from sportscasting, The Post asked her if her next job would include sharing her opinions.

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

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