Michele Tafoya, who has become one of the most famous sideline reporters in broadcasting while remaining based in Minnesota, confirmed Tuesday that she's leaving NBC Sports. And possibly leaving the sports arena entirely.
Next month's Super Bowl LVI in Inglewood, Calif., not far from where Tafoya grew up, will be her last assignment.
Tafoya, 57, wouldn't comment on future plans. But don't expect her to be covering games for another outlet.
"If I wanted to stay in sports television, I wouldn't be leaving," she said during a news conference. "This is about opening a new chapter for me."
Speculation that she might join ABC's daytime talk show, "The View," is sure to rise after she confirmed that her next role will offer an opportunity to share more of her personal opinions.
Tafoya stirred the pot when she was a guest host on the daytime talker last November. Over the course of two days, she pushed back against critical race theory and defended anti-vaxxers.
On Tuesday, she had nothing but good things to say about that experience.
"Generally, what I took out of that was the opportunity to flex some other muscles," she said. "I didn't get to flex them as much as I wanted to. I can probably count the number of minutes I spoke. But I got to talk about other stuff. That was enjoyable for me."
Tafoya said her future plans don't include leaving Edina.
"Minnesota is my home," said Tafoya, who moved here in 1993 to take a job with KFAN radio. "My kids love it here."
Tafoya joined CBS Sports in 2004, which was followed by high-profile roles with ABC, ESPN and NBC. While she covered a wide range of sports, including tennis and the Olympics, she became best known for her sideline work during prime-time football, winning four Emmys in the process.
"In my lifetime, I feel like she's the best sideline reporter the NFL has ever had," said Fred Gaudelli, executive producer of NBC's "Sunday Night Football" who was also at the news conference.
Even while basking in the national spotlight, Tafoya stayed active in local media appearances. At different times, she had a show on WCCO radio and co-hosted "The Tom Barnard Show" on KQRS, where she frequently shared some of her conservative and libertarian views.
She spoke fondly Tuesday about her relationship with Vikings personnel, especially Mike Zimmer, who was fired Monday after a disappointing season.
"I wish Mike Zimmer all the best. He was one of my favorite coaches to talk to at halftime," she said. "I'm sure he'll get snapped up in a jiffy."
Covering Vikings games stick out as her personal highlights.
Tafoya said she'll never forget interviewing short-time Vikes quarterback Brett Favre after he beat his former team, the Green Bay Packers, or surviving the 2016 wild-card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks at UCF Bank Stadium where temperatures dipped to 6 below. It was the coldest outdoor game the Vikings have ever played.
"It's seared into my memory," she said. "Or should I say frozen?"
Rumors that Tafoya would be leaving NBC have been swirling ever since the New York Post ran a story about it last December. But the network was silent about it.
Tafoya said she wanted to avoid a season-long "farewell tour." She hopes NBC doesn't make a big production of her departure while she's working the playoffs and Super Bowl.
"I don't want the game to ever be about me," she said. "The game is about the game. I'm just fine with that."
Tafoya said her plans to leave sports — and a hectic travel schedule — have been in the works for several years.
"I'm looking forward to being able to walk into my house and not have a deadline on doing the laundry and opening the mail, knowing I can spread it out over the next six weeks if I want to," she said. "I'm a total homebody. I'm going to love being around my kids and husband."
One family member did get to chime in before the news conference ended, even if it was unintentional.
Wilma, Tafoya's 90-year-old mom, accidentally unmuted herself during the call with reporters, leaving publicists to believe that she was a member of the media and not just a curious parent.
She didn't have a question — until her daughter cajoled her into asking one.
"When will I see you again?" Wilma asked from her home in California.
"Hopefully, President's Day weekend, Mom." And perhaps a lot more frequently after that.