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It was 30 below on New Year’s Eve 1993 when Michele Tafoya arrived in Minneapolis for a job at KFAN sports radio.Silently, the California girl vowed to stay no more than a year.“Then spring came, and it was a revelation,” she says, perched at her kitchen island in Edina. ” Tafoya, now 52, is known worldwide for her sports reporting and Olympics coverage, yet has remained in Minnesota.“This brown-and-white world changed to green, and blue, and yellow. Each Sunday night during the pro football season, she describes scenes the way she described spring, striking a sweet spot between concrete reporting and authentic enthusiasm to leave a viewer feeling informed, but also charmed.
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“I’ve always liked women getting opportunities in this business. Jacoby Jones, a wide receiver for the Baltimore Ravens — Tafoya would mention here that his 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLVII is the longest run in Super Bowl history — once ended an on-air interview with, “Thanks, gorgeous.” “So of course we all had to call her gorgeous for the next several days,” Michaels says, then practically sighs.
“She’s the cat’s meow.” Choosing her own destiny Tafoya grew up in a middle-class household in Manhattan Beach, Calif., today a wealthy suburb of Los Angeles. Her parents had a “Depression-era mind-set where you save everything.
She’s a nimble veteran of “NBC Sunday Night Football,” catching the “let’s go to the sidelines” hot potato from booth maestro Al Michaels — who knows that she’s cornered the guy who just tackled/received/sacked/scored for 20 seconds of illumination — before tossing it back to him in the microsecond before the next play commences. The team of Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Tafoya was honored in August by the Pro Football Hall of Fame for a record six consecutive TV seasons as prime-time television’s top-rated show.
Her ability would be impressive in any career, let alone one where she’s a rare female in a man’s world.