Michele Tafoya is in her 20th year living in Minnesota and is a staple of sports TV reporting. Tafoya, who resides in Edina, is the sideline reporter for NBC's Sunday Night Packers vs. Vikings game at Mall of America Field. We had a chance to catch up with her on Friday:

RandBall: How do you and the rest of the crew dress up a game like this that looked so much better on paper before the season started?

Michele Tafoya: Sometimes, and I’m not just saying this … sometimes it’s the game you don’t expect and looks really bad on paper, those end up being the better games. I have a couple reasons the Vikings might just help us out and make it a decent game. They’re all very frustrated. They had the big team leadership meeting this week. They feel like they’ve had the best practices of the season by far. Christian Ponder has had an opportunity to sit and think and watch and think, "Honestly, how much worse can it get? I’ve been benched. Let’s go, I’m going to do this now." You have all these factors, and you have a really banged up Green Bay team. It could be more interesting than people think.

RB: Let’s say Adrian Peterson has a monster game and he’s a post-game interview Sunday night. At this point, do you bring up the tragedy involving his son from a couple weeks back?

MT: I would think at this point, no. It’s been discussed, he’s dealt with it. I talked with him on a personal level about it (Friday) just briefly, and I think at this time – not to sound callous -- it’s no longer relevant to the game situation. I think the bigger picture for Adrian and the whole team is his health and is he feeling like he can explode. If he does, then how we have a story.

RB: This is your 20th year in Minnesota. Does that sound weird?

MT: Yeah, I started covering the Vikings for radio in 1994, and gosh that sounds like a long time. It’s totally weird. It speaks to the fact that I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve been in Minnesota for 20 years out of my life, and when I got here I thought I was going to be one year and done. I’m a California girl and I thought there was no way I could take the weather here. When I reflect on it, I think, "Wow, a lot of great things have happened." I met my husband, we had our son, we adopted our daughter. We made a home and a life here, and I never would have guessed that 20 years ago. … I think if I listened to a broadcast from back then, I would just be cringing and running for the door. I know so much more now and have found so many ways to grow and prepare in this job. But what it also comes down to, is you think 20 years is a long time … and it is, but it isn’t. It’s a flash.

RB: A discussion of female sideline reporters often descends into Internet slideshows of the 10 hottest ones. How do you reconcile that part of the business, as it pertains to appearance vs. substance?

MT: That’s an issue that still really bugs me. … I know what my strengths and weakness are. My strengths are never going to get me into the hottest sideline reporter thing. I’ve come to accept that. I guess I’ve decided to just play up my strengths, as a strong journalist – that I think I know how to do my job well and I work well with my colleagues and we collaborate and try to do the best job we can possibly do every single week on this show. That’s all I’m left with. … And people have said, "Why are women relegated to the sideline," but I feel very valued down there.

RB: How soon do you start prepping for a game and does flex scheduling late in the year throw a wrench into your typical prep time?

MT: I take it week by week. Every single week, you stay abreast of the headlines league-wide so nothing catches you off guard. I watch the standings and know the teams I’m going to be covering, but as far as getting embroiled in a game that’s a week-by-week proposition. … As you said, it’s 12 days (with flex scheduling). And one thing that’s been a big asset for me my whole life is that I’m a quick study. When we have to shift on the fly, it doesn’t bother me. We all have to do it. It’s not a big deal. I just hope that wherever I’m going is warm.

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