NFL Sideline Reporter Michele Tafoya Goes Into Politics, Will Co-Chair GOP Gubernatorial Campaign

Tafoya ended her career as a sideline reporter during Sunday's Super Bowl LVI

Michele Tafoya
Michele Tafoya. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty

NFL sideline reporter Michele Tafoya is making a big career change and entering politics: She announced this week that she will now co-chair a Minnesota Republican gubernatorial campaign.

Tafoya, 57, ended her career on the sidelines Sunday, during Super Bowl LVI, the 37th game she covered in her decades in the industry, according to Sports Illustrated.

Now, she'll wade in to a new industry entirely as co-chair for the campaign for Kendall Qualls, a businessman and Army veteran who said he was "excited" to be working with the sports broadcaster as he seeks the GOP nomination to be Minnesota's governor. (The current governor, Democrat Tim Walz, is also seeking re-election.)

"After taking a step back from the sports broadcasting world, I'm honored that my next phase involves supporting Kendall in his run for Governor of Minnesota," Tafoya said in an announcement about her new role. "Kendall has a clear message that resonates with the issues Minnesotans are facing under the current administration. He's smart and with his background and work ethic, I'm positive that he's exactly what Minnesota needs in its next governor."

Speaking to The Athletic, Tafoya said she "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."

Her position in the sports world, Tafoya said, did not allow her to be "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. But look, if you're on a show like Sunday Night Football, which is the No. 1 show in prime time for 11 straight years, unprecedented, the last thing they want to do is invite controversy," Tafoya told The Athletic.

While she's currently helping elect another candidate for office, Tafoya left the door open to a bid of her own, telling The Athletic: "I'll say this — I've been asked multiple times to run for office in Minnesota…. But I just don't know yet. Not at the moment. I will say not at the moment. A lot will depend on what transpires here over the next year."

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As Tafoya alluded to The Athletic, she has some hot-button things to say.

In a November appearance as a guest host on The View, she defended anti-vaxxers, compared COVID-19 to the flu and disputed that Colin Kaepernick had been blackballed from the NFL for his activism for racial justice.

Tafoya added that she is pro-choice when it comes to abortion and believes in individual liberties and is herself vaccinated against COVID.

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