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NBC Doubles Down: Michele Tafoya Absences Are Not Punishment

“Any other speculation about her time off is blatantly false.”

Jordan Bondurant

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This is expected to be NFL sideline reporter Michele Tafoya’s final season in that role for Sunday Night Football games on NBC, but the network has not definitively said whether or not that was the case.

Tafoya has been absent from a few of the primetime telecasts recently. While some say she’s being punished for comments she made about former quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the Nov. 3 edition of ABC’s The View, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports an NBC spokesperson told them the absences were arranged before the season started.

“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,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying to the Inquirer. “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.”

Tafoya made it clear in a discussion with the ABC talk show co-hosts that Kaepernick was no longer in the NFL because he no longer possessed the talent to be on a roster. She said Kaepernick has actually benefitted greatly since leaving the league, as evidenced by his Netflix series and Nike endorsement deal. She added that a planned open tryout in 2019 in front of NFL scouts ended up being moved by him and his entourage last-minute, and fewer scouts actually got to see the former San Francisco 49er work out. So that hindered his chances to get back to playing football also.

The counterpoint was made that Kaepernick was being made to sign an agreement he didn’t want to sign prior to the tryout, and that’s why it got moved. Tafoya then responded that ultimately the main reason he’s no longer being considered for quarterback jobs is not due to his stances on police, his kneeling protest during the National Anthem, or that the NFL as a whole is racist.

“I just want to give the benefit of the doubt to some people that there are two sides to this story,” she said. “I think all of us can agree that there is a lot to this story we still don’t know.”

That elicited groans from the live studio audience, to which Tafoya encouraged them to “Bring it on.”

Tafoya is not afraid to let her political views be known, and in the era of cancel culture, it makes sense that some would think that her thoughts, which many on one side of the political aisle would find controversial, being shared would result in some kind of reprimand by NBC in the form of missed time from game coverage.

Seems like Tafoya’s future at NBC will become official in due time. The network will have coverage of the Super Bowl this season, and Tafoya is expected to be a part of the broadcast team. According to Andrew Marchand, that will be the end of her time on NFL sidelines.

Sports TV News

Stephen Watson Announced as New Host On Bally Sports Wisconsin

Bally Sports Wisconsin, the home of the Milwaukee Brewers and Milwaukee Bucks, has announced a new host for their respective pre and postgame shows. Brewers Live and Bucks Live now have Stephen Watson as a host.

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Stephen Watson

Bally Sports Wisconsin, the television home of the Milwaukee Brewers and Milwaukee Bucks, has announced a new host of it’s pre and postgame offerings. Stephen Watson was announced as a new host for Brewers Live and Bucks Live.

Watson comes to Bally Sports Wisconsin from WISN-TV (Channel 12). There he had spent the last seven years as a sports anchor/reporter/host and covered all of Wisconsin’s major teams. In those seven years, Watson won three Emmy Awards.

“This is a dream opportunity to continue to cover two of the most successful franchises in sports right now while working alongside some of the most talented people in this industry,” Watson said. “Wisconsin sports fans are among the most passionate and dedicated in the country, and I look forward to matching their enthusiasm in my Brewers and Bucks coverage as a host and storyteller.”

Watson will share duties of hosting Brewers Live with Craig Coshun airing before and after each Brewers telecast. He will have similar responsibilities when hosting Bucks Live.

“We’re thrilled to add Stephen to our Bally Sports Wisconsin team. He is a proven content creator; his local knowledge and relationships will greatly benefit our telecasts,” said Tony Tortorici, executive producer, Bally Sports Wisconsin.

Watson is also a collegiate graduate of the area, graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 2011.

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Sports TV News

NBA Draft Ratings Rise 32% For ESPN and ABC

“The event peaked at 8:15pm ET when four and a half million viewers tuned in.”

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The 2022 NBA Draft may have lacked the high profile prospect that prior drafts have had, but the intrigue surrounding the top three picks led to strong audience interest.

With all eyes on the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Houston Rockets viewership for the draft rose 32% year over year for ESPN. The first round on ABC and ESPN averaged close to four million viewers (3,988,000).

Paolo Banchero wound up going #1 to the Magic, Chet Holmgren to #2 to the Thunder, and Jabari Smith Jr. #3 to the Rockets. The full two rounds of the draft averaged just over three million viewers (3,047,000). Round 2 aired exclusively on ESPN.

The first round on ESPN and ABC was the most-watched program for June 23rd across all of television in all key demos. The event peaked at 8:15pm ET when four and a half million viewers (4,500,000) tuned in.

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Sports TV News

Shannon Sharpe Apologizes to Richard Jefferson for Calling Him Lazy

Jordan Bondurant

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Shannon Sharpe

FS1’s Shannon Sharpe took to social media to clear the air between him and ESPN’s Richard Jefferson over some comments Sharpe made about the former NBA champion.

Sharpe said Jefferson was lazy for only wanting to talk about basketball. Jefferson is an NBA analyst for ESPN and doesn’t normally appear on debate shows or provide analysis on other sports.

“There is not a person in this industry since I have retired that would ever refer to my work ethic as being lazy,” Jefferson said in a response video on his TikTok. “So as long as you live don’t ever do that again or this conversation is gonna be much different.”

Sharpe saw the video and apologized saying his assessment of Jefferson was lazy.

“I want to apologize, I come to you as a man, Rich, and apologize to you for my take on what you said,” he said.

Much like Jefferson did, Sharpe then went on to break down the differences between hosts on debate shows who have to watch and study various different sports and analysts like Jefferson who only specialize in analyzing one sport.

But ultimately Sharpe wanted to bury the hatchet and make it clear to the internet that there’s no problems between the two.

“Richard and I do not have a beef,” Sharpe said. “There is nothing going on, and this is my last time addressing this issue.”

Jefferson tweeted on Saturday accepting Shannon’s apology.

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