Who is Michele Tafoya?

Born in Manhattan Beach, California, on 7 December 1964 under the fire sign of Sagittarius, Michele Tafoya Vandersall is a 54-year-old American sportscaster, commentator, sideline reporter, journalist and media personality. She is best known for being the face of “NBC Sunday Night Football”, with previous stints as the main reporter on “Monday Night Football” for both ESPN and ABC. Devoted to covering the National Football League (NFL), Michele is known as one of the premier sportscasters in the nation. Her personal story is a touching one, as she had to overcome an eating disorder and a change of scenery before she became the two-time Sports Emmy winner she is today. With numerous trials and tribulations in her path, she persevered and established herself in the highest echelon of media professionals.

Early Life and Education: Growing Up in California

Michele was raised in her birthplace by Orland Tafoya, an engineer and sports fanatic, and his wife, Wilma Conley Tafoya. During an episode of the KQRS Morning Show in 2018, she revealed a funny story relating to her birth. Apparently, her parents didn’t want to find out the gender of their soon-to-be-born baby, but they were sure it was a boy. How did they know this? According to Tafoya herself, everyone thought it was going to be a boy because she kicked her mother so hard that she sometimes had trouble walking. Therefore, her full name is Michele Joan, because her parents had already made up their minds about the boy being called Michael John. As a child, she idolized Meryl Streep, and wanted to be an actress, but at some point, she switched interests and became more involved in sports. In 1982, she matriculated from an unspecified high school in her hometown.

Afterwards, she would go on to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications from the University of California, Berkley in 1988. Three years later, she received a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California (USC).

Career Beginnings: KFAN-AM, WAQS-AM, NCAA and More

Upon completing her education, Michele moved relatively far from home. In late 1991, as one of USC’s best students, she was hired as a reporter/host for KFAN-AM. This station is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is known as one of the best and most reputable in the sports reporting niche. Instead of advancing slowly, Tafoya was thrust into the fire immediately, reporting from the sidelines of the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL. She was also integral to KFAN-AM’s presence during National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) women’s basketball games. After a little more than 18 months, Michele realized it was time to move on, and accepted an offer from Charlotte’s WAQS-AM.

Michele Tafoya

This new position allowed her to hold a distinct honor amongst sportscasters – in 1993, she became the first woman to call games for the 49ers of the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, a move seen as a landmark in gender equality in American sports, which spearheaded more young women to become sports commentators. She even filled in for a colleague as the sideline reporter for the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). However, it was time for another change of scenery.

Becoming a Star: CBS Sports

In 1994, Michele joined CBS Sports in an expanded role. Before, she would just be on the sidelines and merely report about what was going on. In her new position, Tafoya was given an opportunity to shape narratives, debates and all sorts of panels as a studio host. Her calm demeanor and immense knowledge about the NFL made her the perfect person for the job. Around this time, she made a return to KFAN-AM, handling NCAA basketball in the Big Ten conference, and games for the Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA.

Despite being sporadic, these stints fully showcased Michele’s talents as a host and as a reporter. This helped her become even more popular, as she handled college football on CBS, along with hosting “At the Half” and “CBS Sports Spectacular”, two seminal sports shows. During this period, Tafoya racked up one honor after another, with on-air appearances during the US Open Tennis Championships, NBA playoff games, and the Orange Bowl college American Football game. In addition to all of this, she was the main correspondent for CBD during the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. With a hectic schedule and high expectations, Michele excelled, but was tempted by other offers.

The Best Sideline Reporter in Sports: ABC and ESPN

Surprising everyone, Michele showed the world she wasn’t done with testing her capabilities.

It's Michael Micheal phelps first swim of the games… And Katie Ledecky will break a WR I the 400 free. I know. I'm really going out on a limb.

Posted by Michele Tafoya on Sunday, August 7, 2016

She joined not just ABC Sports, but also ESPN, signing two lucrative contracts that would allow her to balance obligations and deliver stellar performances on the sidelines. Her profile continued to rise, as she wasn’t hesitant to adopt on-air roles, such as becoming the co-host of the “Mike Tirico Show” on ESPN radio. For ABC, she was the sideline reporter for Super Bowl XL together with Suzy Kolber. She also appeared during NBA games for both employers, but then decided to resign from basketball reporting, citing a personal wish of hers to focus solely on football, through a variety of leagues and categories. In the late 2000s, she perfected her skills as a play-by-play announcer and panel host, being a part of “Pardon the Interruption”, “Outside the Lines”, “SportsCenter” and many other segments. As the host of “Monday Night Football” and “ESPN College Football”, Michele helped break several viewership records, and become a favorite amongst her colleagues.

Beer Incident

In late 2003, Michele was involved in a rather peculiar incident. While attending a game between the University of Minnesota and the University of Michigan men’s basketball teams, she became annoyed by a trash-talking fan. While John Lewis was shouting profanities in support of Michigan, Tafoya had enough and poured a cold beer on his head. When that didn’t work, she had the brilliant idea of repeating the process, hoping that Lewis would stop yelling. The police arrived before the sportscaster had a chance to unload another brew. She wasn’t charged with anything, but had to publicly apologize to both Lewis and everyone present.

From Monday Night Football to Sunday Night Football

In 2011, Michele’s move to NBC Sports shook the sports world to its foundations, as she left both ABC and ESPN to join another rival. As NBC was looking to complete an overhaul of their team of reporters, they decided Tafoya was all they needed to get the edge over other networks.

Immediately she joined “Sunday Night Football”, the undisputed most-watched show on primetime television. A familiar face with a formidable skillset, Michele captivated audiences from LA to The Big Apple, breaking viewership records in the process. In just her first year with NBC, she won a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality – Sports Reporter. It became obvious that NBC had given her the platform she needed, as she won the same award in 2013. Tafoya also left her mark on Super Bowl XLIX, in which the New England Patriots prevailed over the Seattle Seahawks. Thanks to her reporting, the program is still the most-watched show in US TV history, with 115 million viewers on average. In total, Michele reported during five Super Bowls with two different networks. Since 2016, she has also been the co-host of “The KQ Morning Show” on KQRS-AM.

Honors and Awards

In her storied career, Tafoya has amassed a large number of awards, in addition to her two Sports Emmys. In 1997, she was handed an award for “Outstanding Achievement by an Individual On-Air TV Personality” by the American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT) organization. The reason for this prestigious honor was her work as a commentator during the early days of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). She won the same award in 2014, for the myriad of accomplishments and records she set. In 2009, she was voted the 4th most popular female sportscaster, in a contest held by the American Sportscasters Association. The Davie-Brown Index, an independent ranking of the most popular celebrities, deemed her to be the biggest trend-setter in her niche. Not many sportscasters have been as versatile as Tafoya has been. Now nearing two decades of work, Michele will surely win herself more awards before all is said and done.

Personal Life: Is Michele Tafoya Married? Does She Have Children?

Michele Tafoya is married to Mark Vandersall, a financial advisor from Minneapolis, Minnesota. They met in 1993 and ultimately tied the knot in 2000. In 2005, they welcomed Tyler into the world – before the boy was born, Michele had four miscarriages, but didn’t want to give up on her dream of having a family. In 2009, they adopted a Colombian girl named Olivia. On multiple occasions, Michele has talked about her battle with anorexia. As a teenager, she became obsessed with being fit, which resulted in a severe eating disorder. Together with her family, Tafoya resides in Edina, Minnesota but frequently travels due to her work as a reporter. When asked about her political beliefs, she described herself as a “libertarian-leaning conservative that is pro-choice”.

Body Measurements: How Tall is Michele Tafoya?

Michele Tafoya is 5ft 9ins (175cm) tall, weighs approximately 136lbs (62kg) and has a slim, hourglass figure, as evident by her vital statistics of 36-25-35. She has dark brown eyes and the hair to match.

Net Worth: How Rich is Michele Tafoya?

Have you ever wondered how affluent this famous sportscaster really is? According to credible sources, she has a net worth of approximately $2 million, as of September 2019, accumulated by becoming one of the most sought-after reporters in the country. Her credentials, shows and accomplishments speak for themselves. There is no information concerning her salary on a yearly level, but it’s speculated that she’s amongst the highest-paid sports reporters of all time. Given the fact that she’s still as active as ever, we might see an increase in her net worth in the near future.

Social Media Presence

Like most reporters, Tafoya considers social media to be a formidable tool that aids the divulging of information to her fans. As delivering news is her bread and butter, she only uses Twitter. Through her interaction with 45,000 followers, she’s chimed in during some of the most important storylines in recent sports history.

Author

Benjy is currently a reporter for BiographyPedia based in Adelaide, Australia. Prior to joining BiographyPedia in July 2019, he was a Bizarre TV reporter and theatre critic at TheSun. Benjy has also written for DailyMail and TMZ. Benjy studied journalism at Goldsmiths University of London, graduating in 2009. You can contact him at [email protected]

Write A Comment

Pin It