Bill Simmons hates when people take theories from his podcast and report them as fact, so when he posited that sideline reporter Michele Tafoya’s absence from Sunday Night Football could be linked to her blowhard-ish stint in the conservative chair on The View, it was either because he had a brain fart or a yearning for some masochism.
Only lending more credibility to that idea Tuesday was the New York Post’s report that this year would be her last on SNF. They also said all their Sunday Night Football talent has been periodically taking breaks this season — both Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have taken time off — and that Tafoya will be back for the Saints-Bucs game this weekend.
An NBC spokesman told Deadspin in an email:
Michele will be back on the sidelines this weekend. 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. 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.
My guess is it was two friends bullshitting on a podcast, and Simmons thought the theory was too outlandish to have any basis in reality, but what do I know? I’m just a guy who listens to his show and really enjoyed Cousin Sal’s recurring “Collinsworth looking for Tafoya” joke.
However, it is interesting that Simmons, who routinely makes a point to complain about being aggregated, would be so careless. (Anything for a laugh, but I laughed, too, so who am I to judge.) He had to have known it would get picked up, especially after it was a running bit in the podcast.
If the conspiracy was a real possibility, it would be pretty funny, though, because we all know where NBC leans, and going on an ABC show to defend anti-vaxxers, compare COVID to the flu, lament Critical Race Theory, and decry there are two sides to the NFL’s awful handling of the Colin Kaepernick situation leans very much the opposite direction. Or maybe the NFL made the call because it wants to distance politically polarizing figures from its broadcasts in an attempt to keep sports from mixing with the real world. Considering how she talks the NFL talk (and did so on The View), that’s seems unlikely.
Simmons also said missing four games out of an 18-week NFL schedule was suspicious, and that he wouldn’t want a potential replacement getting live reps. Getting canned or not getting renewed for pushing claims that have been scientifically proven wrong sounds plausible, right? When you consider that counts as being conservative these days, it’s a little less believable and resides in a legal area seemingly ripe for legal action.
It could simply be a reshuffling due to SNF’s alleged turnover. Mike Tirico is expected to step in for Michaels after this season, and it’s rumored Michaels is the favorite to become the voice of Amazon’s Thursday Night Football, though he may still call some NBC games. (I would assume they would be the ones Tirico sits out.)
Honestly, I didn’t notice Tafoya wasn’t on the sidelines the past four weeks, and I didn’t know that she made an appearance on The View or that there was a conservative chair on The View or that she went full Meghan McCain while in it. Would people, other than those who watch The View, even know about Tafoya’s stances had Simmons not highlighted them on his podcast? Sure, but probably not to this extent.
I’m not saying she’s a complete victim here because going right-wing galaxy doofus on a well-known television program is fucking stupid, and it opened her up to this conspiracy theory, but the news of her departure from SNF and the timing of it, right or wrong, will be clouded by Simmons’ claims.
The lesson in all this? The
house internet always wins.