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NBC Doubles Down: Michele Tafoya Absences Are Not Punishment

“Any other speculation about her time off is blatantly false.”

Jordan Bondurant

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This is expected to be NFL sideline reporter Michele Tafoya’s final season in that role for Sunday Night Football games on NBC, but the network has not definitively said whether or not that was the case.

Tafoya has been absent from a few of the primetime telecasts recently. While some say she’s being punished for comments she made about former quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the Nov. 3 edition of ABC’s The View, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports an NBC spokesperson told them the absences were arranged before the season started.

“As we have done repeatedly, we’re again giving our announcers bye weeks in 2021, and we plan to do it well into the future,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying to the Inquirer. “Michele’s off weeks — which were determined prior to the season — were all in cold weather cities after Thanksgiving, and her final weekend off this season comes on Jan. 2 in Green Bay. Any other speculation about her time off is blatantly false.”

Tafoya made it clear in a discussion with the ABC talk show co-hosts that Kaepernick was no longer in the NFL because he no longer possessed the talent to be on a roster. She said Kaepernick has actually benefitted greatly since leaving the league, as evidenced by his Netflix series and Nike endorsement deal. She added that a planned open tryout in 2019 in front of NFL scouts ended up being moved by him and his entourage last-minute, and fewer scouts actually got to see the former San Francisco 49er work out. So that hindered his chances to get back to playing football also.

The counterpoint was made that Kaepernick was being made to sign an agreement he didn’t want to sign prior to the tryout, and that’s why it got moved. Tafoya then responded that ultimately the main reason he’s no longer being considered for quarterback jobs is not due to his stances on police, his kneeling protest during the National Anthem, or that the NFL as a whole is racist.

“I just want to give the benefit of the doubt to some people that there are two sides to this story,” she said. “I think all of us can agree that there is a lot to this story we still don’t know.”

That elicited groans from the live studio audience, to which Tafoya encouraged them to “Bring it on.”

Tafoya is not afraid to let her political views be known, and in the era of cancel culture, it makes sense that some would think that her thoughts, which many on one side of the political aisle would find controversial, being shared would result in some kind of reprimand by NBC in the form of missed time from game coverage.

Seems like Tafoya’s future at NBC will become official in due time. The network will have coverage of the Super Bowl this season, and Tafoya is expected to be a part of the broadcast team. According to Andrew Marchand, that will be the end of her time on NFL sidelines.

Sports TV News

Tom Brady: I’ll Join FOX in 2024

“Even in the future, I wanna be great at what I do. That takes time strategizing, and learning, and evolving.”

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Many have questioned whether Tom Brady will actually join FOX Sports’ top NFL booth after he retires. Today, we have that answer.

During an appearance on The Herd with Colin Cowherd, Brady confirmed he will indeed join Kevin Burkhardt in the network’s top NFL booth, but not until the 2024 season.

“Decompression is important,” Brady said, noting he’ll join the network’s NFL coverage after a year off from the game. “You’re on this kind of really crazy treadmill/hamster wheel, loving the moment, loving the journey, (but) at the same time there’s a daily fight. I have an appreciation to those who are so committed to showing up every day and putting in their max effort to their life and their career.

“I think — for me — I want to be great at what I do. So last week, talking with the people at FOX Sports and the leadership there allowing me to start my FOX opportunity in the fall of 2024 is something that’s great for me.”

Brady added he needs time to absorb a new career before jumping in head first.

“Take some time to really learn, become great at what I want to do, become great at thinking about the opportunity, and make sure I don’t rush into anything. Even in the future, I wanna be great at what I do. That takes time strategizing, and learning, and evolving, and I have so many people to rely on that can support me in that growth, too.”

The seven-time Super Bowl winning quarterback concluded by saying there are other aspects of his life outside of football that “need some catching up and energy”. He went through a high-profile divorce from supermodel Gisele Bündchen, reportedly stemming from his refusal to retire after the 2021 NFL season.

Brady signed a reported 10-year, $375 million contract with FOX Sports to join the network’s top NFL announcing crew, and serve as a brand ambassador in May of last year.

The addition of Brady to the FOX Sports booth creates a potential log jam in the analyst role. Current FOX Sports top NFL analyst Greg Olsen has received high praise from many both inside and outside the industry for his work with Burkhardt. Olsen hasn’t been shy about his wish to remain in the network’s top booth, saying that while the situation “sucks”, he is a “big boy” and “knows what he signed up for”.

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Sports TV News

Troy Aikman Believes Tom Brady Has Bright Broadcasting Future

“He has some real opinions. He hasn’t always voiced all of those, of course. Now he will have a platform to where it will be expected.”

Ricky Keeler

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Troy Aikman

Troy Aikman has been in the NFL broadcast booth since 2001 and he knows first-hand what Tom Brady will have to go through as he goes from the playing field to the booth. The game has changed over the last 20 years, particularly the speed at which the game is played.

Aikman was a guest on the Green Light with Chris Long podcast and he was asked about the biggest adjustment he had to make when he entered the FOX booth at the time. The Hall-of-Fame QB mentioned how a lot goes on in the booth and it takes a little bit to adjust.

“There is a lot going on in a broadcast booth that it just takes a little bit of time to understand and have things slow down a little bit. There’s this idea that whether you are a player or a former coach when you go into a broadcast booth, I can’t wait to be able to educate the viewer on X and explain this.

“There’s less time now than there was when I got into the broadcast booth because all these offenses are playing up-tempo. You have to be done talking before the snap of the next play so you just don’t have the kind of time to get into a lot of that.

“What I learned early on is you start down this road of explaining something and then you have to somehow wrap it up to be done talking before Joe jumps back in. You leave something hanging and then a big play happens and you never get back to it…Adjusting to all the action and all the activity going on in the broadcast booth and the timing of everything is probably the biggest challenge.” 

When he is in the booth, Aikman mentioned that he never wants the audience to feel like he has all the answers when he analyzes a game and there are only a few times when he will get very critical.

“I don’t go into a broadcast feeling like I have all the answers to what’s happening on the field and I don’t want to come off as though I do have all the answers because these guys spend an enormous amount of time giving it everything they have and it’s more important for them to win than anyone watching the game. I tend to give the coaches the benefit of the doubt.

“Where I’m critical is just not very smart plays, lack of effort, lack of discipline. Those things are when I tend to then react pretty strongly.”

As for his thoughts on Brady becoming an analyst, Aikman believes Brady will do whatever he can to be successful and he is looking forward to hearing some of the opinions Brady has on the game that now he will be able to say as an analyst.

“I think that for him, he has some real opinions. He hasn’t always voiced all of those, of course. Now he will have a platform to where it will be expected and I think he will deliver. I fully expect him to have a really great broadcasting career.

“My only advice is just be you, be authentic, be honest, speak your mind. He will find his niche. He will do that respectfully and I think he will add a lot to the broadcast.”

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Sports TV News

Jay Williams Tells Stephen A. Smith His Criticism Of Kyrie Irving ‘Seems Personal’

“You say I’m being sensitive and I don’t know why, but you’re the one that’s very emotional right now.”

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Kyrie Irving is a lot of things. Boring is rarely one of them. Discussions of Kyrie Irving can get heated, particularly when those discussions involve Jay Williams and Stephen A. Smith of ESPN.

Williams was a guest on First Take Monday morning. He was part of a panel discussing Irving’s trade request, which ultimately ended with him as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. He and Smith butted heads

“First off, I’m not the one yelling,” he said to Smith. “You say I’m being sensitive and I don’t know why, but you’re the one that’s very emotional right now.”

That comment was met with an “Oh my God!” from Smith, who laid back while Williams told him that it seemed like Smith is considerably harder on Irving and more triggered by stories about him than about any other athlete.

Smith answered that he is always triggered. Williams, as a regular viewer of First Take, said that did not feel true. He said that it seemed like Stephen A. Smith has a personal problem with Kyrie Irving.

“You — of all people, with all the interest you have — have the nerve to sit here on national television and tell me I’m getting personal with a player?” Smith responded. “I don’t lose no sleep. I don’t lose any sleep over Kyrie Irving.”

Smith then claimed he’d to have too much to say. Jay Williams said he did too, to which Smith started saying “Just say it, Jay.”

Williams met those demands with “I’m not here for that” and “I am on your show,” as host Molly Qerim tried to bring the temperature down.

When it comes to daytime sports television, there will always be questions about how authentic the arguments really are. Last year, Jay Williams was a guest on The Jason Barrett Podcast. He admitted on that show that Smith’s discussions of Kyrie Irving are something he has seized on to create conflict when they are together.

“The way he went at Kyrie all of last year ‘Well, you know some people don’t like to come to work. Some people don’t like to be here’ and then all the sudden for him to flip and be like ‘I’m choosing Kyrie Irving for my MVP’ I’m like ‘No! No, you can’t do that!’

Whether this was co-workers genuinely butting heads, a disagreement played up for the cameras, or some combination of the two, will likely only be known by Stephen A. Smith and Jay Williams. Plenty of their sports media colleagues took notice though.

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