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Huddle Up with Gus
Huddle Up with Gus

Episode · 8 months ago

Michele Tafoya

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Joining me in the Huddle this week is Michele Tafoya. Since 2011, she has been a reporter for NBC Sports, primarily as a sideline reporter for NBC Sunday Night Football. We find out that her love for sports came from the passion her dad had for sports, a die-hard San Francisco 49ers fan. Her father Orlando Tafoya grew up in San Francisco and attended many games at Kezar Stadium. Michele describes her parents as compassionate and inspiring role models; she gives them much credit for her success. 

By the time Michele was 27, she had earned her Bachelors in Mass Communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. During her time at graduate school, she really thought about exactly what it was she wanted to do. What she knew was, she loves sports and she loves journalism. She thought if she could marry the two together she would never work a day in her life. There was no shortage of inspiration for her dreams. She admired the works of Lesley Visser and Robin Roberts and felt confident that she could do what they do.

She landed her first gig in her professional broadcasting career; she moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and started covering games not only for the NFL Vikings but the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team as well. From there she accepted an offer in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was a color analyst for the men’s basketball team for the University of North Carolina; in 1993 she was the first woman to hold that position. As Michele became more recognized she also became more sought after. From 1994 to 1999 she co-hosted "CBS Sports Spectacular". In 1996 she positioned herself as the first woman to call television play-by-play of an NCAA Tournament game.

Michele quite frequently works several jobs at a time. She is of course humbly proud of her accomplishments, but she credits hard work and dedication for her success. In the new millennium, Michele spent the next decade with ABC and ESPN, in 2004 she was allowed to report side by side with Al Michaels and John Madden for ABC’s Monday Night Football. By 2011 Michele had earned so much respect she was offered a position of sideline reporter for the most-watched weekly game. She was back with Al Michaels for NBC’s Sunday Night Football. With her outstanding sports personality, she won two Emmys; one in her first year with Sunday Night Football and the second in 2013. And in 2014 Michele won her second Gracie Award for her work on Lifetime again, but with the Sunday Night Football syndicate.

...welcome everyone to huddle up with Gus.I'm your host, 15 year NFL quarterback Gus, for, uh, we're here in the new 1631 digital news studio. If you wanna learn more or listen to previous shows,you can check us out on our website huddled up with gus dot com or whereveryou listen to your favorite podcasts. While in the huddle, our guestsdescribe how sports shaped their life. Now let's join the huddle. Hello,everyone, and welcome to another episode of Huddle Up With Us. I'm yourhost gust for a 15 year NFL quarterback. And, uh, I wanna welcome you to the new16 31 digital news studio. And also you can find us now on Sounder FM, whereSounder FM is changing the game where you can go and find new ways tobroadcast your podcast. So, uh, today's guest is somebody that I think we kindof came on the scene together back in the early nineties, and you know, she'sbeen doing her thing and still doing an amazing job. She is now a sidelinereporter for Sunday Night Football, but her list is way too long to go on andon about. She's, she's she's been in over in the Olympics broadcast andeverything from skiing Thio. I can't remember some of the other things I'veseen Michelle that you broadcast, but you seem to have an awful lot of fun.You have an incredible voice for it. You do an amazing job every time yourreport on whatever it is you're reporting on because I think you'rejust an absolute not for for whatever sport you're, and you just know it sowell. So everyone I wanna welcome to the shell. Michele Tafoya. We I thinkyou started in 1993. Michelle. I was drafted in 94 so we kind of kind ofboth came in at the same time. Yeah, so if you were a lot younger than I waasSo you know there's that, but it's great to see you and great to be withyou. And thank you for the nice intro. Well, I I you know, because I alwaystry to figure out what that intro is gonna be for all my guests. Right,Because some of them are pretty simple. Um, some of them, like you that havejust all these footnotes and everything that you've done. It's just amazing tome, uh, that that your career has gone in such a trajectory. It's been amazing,and I love to see it. Oh, I appreciate that. I have been very fortunate, but,you know, and worked very hard. So it Zbynek a long one, that's for sure, right? But it's probably been a lot offun. It's been a great journey for you because you're flying all over theworld reporting on sports. So let's go back to where it all started for youback in California, where you grew up and tell me about the first time youcould remember where you fell in love with sports and said, You know, Ialways want to be involved in this. I don't know if I knew that I alwayswanted to be involved, but I did. My dad took me to my first major leaguebaseball game. Nolan Ryan threw a no hitter against the Minnesota Twins. Hewas with California at that time, and that's ironic because now I live inMinnesota, where I cheer for the Twins. But I remember that I remember watchingNorth Carolina State when the final four when the championship. I rememberthat and falling in love with basketball. We were always a sportsoriented family. My dad was a sports nut and my brother was a huge, you know,6 ft six basketball player, kind of one of those all state California guys. Andso we all cheered for his career along the way, and I just So I knewbasketball inside and out and played a little bit. I was never a great athlete.I was a good talker, so it's sense. But at some point along the line, I thinkit was Gus. Um, my dad grew up in San Francisco and was a I mean, a devout 40Niners fan, and we were growing up in Southern California, where all myfriends were L. A Rams fans. And it was, you know, this thesis inferioritycomplex because San Francisco was so bad for so long. And then when BillWalsh arrived and and, of course, Joe...

Montana, uh, we got season tickets andwe used to drive up the 400 miles to the games, and it was I think that wasreally for me, sort of. The what sealed the deal is I just loved the NFL somuch and continued to follow it so deeply. And then I saw, you know, I sawwomen getting into this bit and I said, Kash, I think I could do that. You know,I wanna be in broadcasting. I think this might be the way to go. So myquestion is, who is that person for you? That that that woman for you? BecauseI've interviewed many. And who was that person for you where you saw them on TVor heard them on the radio or whatever it was that said this? She is gonnahelp Let me do what I want to dio. Well, I think it was probably RobinRoberts. She, to me, was the model of what a good sports journalist should beand e remember meeting her. And for the first time, it was at a n N C double Atournament when I was working for CBS and certainly Lesley Visser as well. Imean, she was one of the first on the sidelines, and I thought to myself, Wow,um, that's an opportunity, you know? So I think the two of them, But I do wantto say This is well and I want to say this for any young person that may bewatching this. I was also influenced by men. I was influenced by Bob Costas. Iwas influenced by Dan Patrick. I was influenced by Al Michaels. Those peopleinfluenced me to of how to do journalism well on how to cover sports.Well, and I would like to think that some of us who are happen to be womencould influence young men and women that it doesn't have thio matter aboutyour gender. Um, to me, I I went into it thinking, I'm not just competingwith women in this business. I'm competing with everyone. I'm competingwith journalists. I'm a human being. I don't really care that I'm female. Imean that I did recognize that that may give me a bit of a leg up because Iknow at that time, you know, women were scarce in this business, and if youcould do it well, you could get a job. And so But I didn't outside of that. Ijust thought of myself as a journalist competing against other journalists andnot, you know, putting myself giving myself a hurdle by thinking of myselfas, ah minority or as a as a, you know, as someone with a disadvantage. So I Iwould like to think that good journalists influence good journalism.Good reporting influences, good reporting. No matter what your gender,no matter what your skin color. All of that. Yeah, I think that's that's great,because that's what equality means, right? We don't see anything. It's justwhoever is best for the job bond. And that's what that means. And so I thinkyou're coming about it the right way. But there were people that had to fightthose battles. Uh, per se You know what I've interviewed? Um, Lesley Visser.I've interviewed Nancy Brenner. I You know all these all these great women inNancy Lieberman I just had on. I mean, I think about what she's done inbasketball. For me, for you. You've been ingrained in football for a whilenow, but you talk about and you report on so many sports. Did you find itharder or easier to kind of get ingrained with football over the othersports? Because I see football, try really trying to be more inclusive thanI feel like it's the N B A. And then it's kind of the other sports. Yeah, well, I'm really proud of twofriends of mine. Doris Burke, who's been doing a lot of work on the N. B. A.Is an analyst. I mean, she is really broken through. And then Sarah Thomas,who just worked the Super Bowl, is a good friend, and I'm so I was so fun towatch her. She is. Those to me are, you...

...know, those air pioneers. Sarah's apioneer. She was the first woman to work a Super Bowl, and I'm sure thatshe is influencing other women. So I do not minimize that role. I do notminimize that idea that when you see other women doing something, you go.Okay, this is open toe women. Okay, that's great. Um, but I also saw thatsome women had a chip on their shoulder and thought, Oh, he's not going to talkto me because I'm a long you cannot think that way. You have to think ofyourself, and you have to go through whatever fires you have to go through,and I certainly went through them. Believe me, I went through them. Um,but and I'm sure I went through those that were that men didn't have to gothrough a Sfar as getting the NFL was always my goal. I love covering collegebasketball. I love covering the N B A. I love covering the Olympics,everything it was. I mean, I'm so blessed. But the NFL was where I wantedto be, and I just kind of kept taking that next step. Gus, you know, justokay, What's what's the next thing for me to dio And and in some cases, I wasafraid to ask for certain assignments. But as I became more confident, I gotmore assertive in asking for different assignments. But, uh, this this pathwas quite organic. I was working with Al Michaels on the n b. A, and at thetime they were looking for a new reporter on Monday Night Football, andhe recommended me without my knowing. I had no idea he did that on Boom. Ithappened. And I've been with his team pretty much ever since, and it Z, it'sjust been it's just a great office, a good team to be on. Yeah, it is. Youthink Yeah, eso if we go back to when you were in high school and you'rethinking about this because you always fell in low. You loved the NFL. Youtook those drives up to San Francisco with your family. Your dad, Um when'sthe first time you really kind of talk to your dad or your family about thisis what I want to do. This is in high school, uh, and then said, I want to goon and pursue this in college. What do you guys think? Do you remember thoseconversations with your family? You know, I think going into college Iwasn't even sure this was what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be inbroadcasting of some kind, and my parents were supportive of whatever Iwanted to do. Is long as it truly made me happy. Um, you know, I got tocollege. I was up in Northern California, still going across the bayto 40 Niners games and having a blast and just following it with all of myheart. But I think I only when I got out of college, I got a little coldfeet and I thought this business. You know, there, those jobs are few and farbetween. What if I don't get one? What if I don't get where I wanna go? I needa fallback plan. So I went back to school, got a masters in business. Butit was then, Gus that I really realized. Um, I don't want to be. I want to be infront of the camera. I wanna be covering something I love. I want to bedoing something I'm passionate about. And that's when, after spending allthat time, you know, studying business, which, by the way, it came back to helpme. In many ways, um, I told my parents. Yeah, I'm gonna move to Charlotte,North Carolina. I'm gonna take this job that barely pays for anything, but I'mstarting. This is I've got to start somewhere. And this is where I'mstarting. And they just were always supportive. They just you know, I thinkthat they trusted me toe make the right decisions for myself. And and, you know,I'm glad my dad lived long enough to see me do some really special things.My mom is still alive. She was with me when I won my first Emmy, so that waslike crazy nice eso Itt's just It's...

...been a journey that they've very muchbeen a part of. Yeah, that's awesome. You know, I kind of feel the same wayabout my parents as well. They just wanted the best for you, right? Andthen we have a good support structure, but your road doesn't sound like it wasvery easy either. Right? When you when you do make that trip to North Carolina,then you have to figure, you know, all of a sudden I'm not that close to home,you know, because I did that as well. Going from Pittsburgh to Tulsa, it's astruggle. And it's, uh this is something I want to do. But now I'm onmy own. So now you get on your own in Charlotte. And what was the thing youlearned in Charlotte that that really that you could remember helps you carryyou still carry with you today? I think resiliency. I really dio I mean,I think think I've naturally been a resilient person and someone who is asurvivor. But, you know, I didn't know anyone in Charlotte. Um, it wasn't agreat experience for me the time that I was there. Um, it was a great learningexperience. My gosh, I was doing five hours of sports talk five days a week,and you gotta be versatile. You gotta be versatile. This was before thePanthers were in Carolina to this was, you know, we were talking AtlantaBraves. We're talking Duke, North Carolina. Um, it taught me a little bitabout how to go with your gut. I remember calling the This was 1994 NCdouble A tournament. And we all picked our Brack. It's on the air, and Ipicked cow to beat Duke. And it wasn't because I went to cow. It was becausebefore I left California, my dad took me to a cow UCLA basketball game downat Pauley Pavilion. And I watched that game and I saw Jason Kidd and I sawJared has, and I saw that whole roster of the cow basketball team beat U. C L.A. Soundly and I and I. And then I got to North Carolina and I watched Dukeand I said, Cow can beat Duke. I'm picking cow and ever I got lambasted inin Charlotte, you could imagine people are like, Oh, you home or you'repicking with your after Cal beat Duke in the Elite eight. Or it might havebeen a sweet 16. I'm forgetting. But, um, everyone called and apologized andsaid, Oh, my gosh, you you knew what you were talking about. That one tooksome guts and I took abuse for it. It sounds silly because it was just, youknow, it's local radio, and I took all the that's abuse. But when you're in itand when you're in that town and everyone's railing on you and you gotto stand by what you believe and you know you're kind of Yes, I was a bit ofanomaly because I was a woman there, Um, you know, you gotta learn to beresilient and thicken your skin. And I think that was the thing that I tookaway from that experience. You learned early that nothing comes easy, right?And I definitely learned how to Tulsa. You think you're this guy in highschool, then you go to college and you're not, you know, Then you gottawork up to be the guy in college and you get there and then you're not theguy. Then you gotta go. The NFL improve yourself. That's every year, right overand over and over again on. And so, you know, watching your career and doing itfollowing you in all the places that you moved, I was like, Man, that feelsso similar to me. Like you were just bounced, like, you know, I played forseven teams, I was all over the place, and you got to kind of move and go withthe job is and, uh, you know, that's what was kind of I felt similar. Like,you were all over the place. And then you found your roots in Minnesota. Tellme a little bit about that. Yeah. Who would have figured a girl from SouthernCalifornia would wind up in Minnesota and be very happy here? That's crazy.As I mentioned to you, Gus, Charlotte wasn't easy for me. It was a verydifficult, uh, nine or 10 months there for a number of reasons. And at thetime, I don't know if you remember when...

Michael Jordan retired the first timewe had an end down in Charlotte, we had an end. We got tipped off to that newsbefore it was public. And the way we got tipped after that news was that theguy who was printing all the retirement paraphernalia for Jordan let us knowand before it was public. So we were able to break that news. When we brokethat news, our little tiny AM radio station in North Carolina, a station inMinnesota, asked me to come on and talk about it. So I did. And they had me onagain. And, you know, after I think the second or third time, they asked me tostay on hold at the end of the interview and their program directorpicked up and she said, You don't know me, but I wanna hire you. And she flewme out to Minnesota and she flew me around. She drove me around. She showedme everything and she made me want to make that step. And for me, it was abigger market, you know, They have the Vikings, the twins, the Timberwolves,they had it all. And, um, I said, if you can allow me to be on your Vikingsbroadcasts, I'll come. So she made me the sideline reporter on their radioVikings broadcast. And so I said, This is a step in that right direction thatI want. This will give me at least another end to what I want. Uh, it wasnot easy. When I arrived, it was 30 below with the wind chill. Um, you know,I had no idea what I was getting into, but I knew it was the right career move.It was an opportunity that presented itself. And so I took it, Um, And thenand then I fell in love with the place because once I saw the seasons change,I was like, You see this in Pittsburgh as well, You see, in California, youdon't see that much of a season change right here. We get it all we get allfour seasons in their glory, and my first spring that I saw here I was like,Oh, my gosh, there, ducklings. There are bunnies. There are two lips to Itwas so beautiful to me that I kind of started to fall in love so that evenwhen CBS hired me to go work network TV, I said, I'd like to stay in Minnesotaand travel, and I did. Yeah, we loved Minnesota when I when I played, Iplayed there twice and 03 or four and then again in No. Eight. And I alwaysenjoyed driving around Minnesota. You know, whether it's the summer, thewinner, Whatever was like you said, It's always so beautiful and one of myfavorite things ever was when I would drive through those small towns and itstarts to get ice on on all the lakes or the pond or what Everyone and thosekids come out and they're cleaning the snow off and they're making theirlittle rinks like you just don't see that kind of stuff anywhere. And it'sIt was I always loved that about Minnesota. Yeah, it is neat. It zreally neat. It's for the hearty, that is for sure, A Z. My husband likes tosay that the cold weather keeps the riffraff out. You know, you only youcould only be here if you want to really survive it. And believe me,there are days were both he and I go. What are we doing here? Like as I sithere talking to you right now, I think it's it's two degrees, maybe you know,it's It's the kind of weather where you wouldn't wanna walk to the mailbox. Butwhen spring breaks and when the fall comes and I know you experience fallouthere, it could be absolutely like, Who's bumpy? Beautiful And so that thatI love it was a great you know, Once I met my husband was kind of like allover We put our roots down here. We're raising our kids here and eso here westay. And I've just been really lucky enough that all the work that I dorequires that I travel, so it kind of doesn't matter where I live. And if youlook at our Sunday Night Football crew, our producer and director live inConnecticut. Al Michaels lives in L. A. Cris Collinsworth lives in Fort Thomas,Kentucky. I lived in Minnesota, and we all kind of, you know, just convergeevery week, whatever city we're gonna be covering. So it's worked out. Yeah.So who's the leader of that team? Is it...

Al Michaels for sure? Al and FredGaudelli, our producer Fred knows what he wants, and he doesn't accept. He'skind of like a Bill Belichick Gregg Popovich kind of mix. Um, he is. He's aleader. He knows what he wants. He doesn't accept anything below a certainstate. I mean, you know the standard you're being held to every week. So inthat regard, he is the leader of the pack. When the three of us Al, Chrisand I go out to dinner, it's a trifecta we are all competing for who can tellthe best story. But you know, Al is the AL is the master of ceremonies becausehe has so many great stories to tell and so much experience. My gosh, thethe breath of his experience. Gus is mind boggling. And I knew that before,but I saw him when, and I saw him going to the radio broadcast or thetelevision broadcast Hall of Fame. I was there for the ceremony. I was withMad, and I was with Fred and and they did a montage of his career. I waasblown away. The guy has seen and done so much, and I just the respect I havefor him is enormous. Yeah, how do you do? A montage of his career, whichseems like it would take about two hours a day least. Yeah, it was. So itwas about a 20 minute clip. Real. And, you know, you just saw these quick bitsof him from the youngest age doing, you know, stuff in Hawaii to when he got toSan Francisco, then with the Reds and Cincinnati did the earthquake Siris inNorthern Calif. I mean, and then there's, you know, do you believe inmiracles? And it's just it's so tremendously amazing, uh, toe work withhim and Chris, too. I mean, Chris is one of the hardest workers I've evermet in my life. They both are. So you know the standard when you walk in thedoor and you gotta work your tail off to reach it, right? Well, I watchedyour first when Al Michaels, Um, when you joined the team and it was yourfirst time on interview. And I think you interviewed Jason Garrett rightwith with Sunday Night Football. I think that was a charge. It was theChargers plan, the Cowboys, something like that. And Al Michael said allthese great things about you and I wanna welcome her to the our team andall this. And you were just like. Yeah. Thanks, Alan. And you went on aninterview, Jason, Like you've just been doing it forever. You know, it was itwas great. It was like from the beginning. You guys were You were justlike it sounded like you guys were just clicking, you know, a Z I mentioned, Ithink, earlier, Alan, I worked on the MBA together, and, um, we clicked themand, you know, it just I don't know what it waas we just clicked. I just Heis for anyone that you know doesn't know him. Well, um, he is He and hiswife were just so warm, and he just took me under his wing. I you know, Iknow people say that a lot, and I guess I had never experienced it until Al andhe just Come on, kid. We're going to do this and it's gonna be fun. And it's,you know, And then, you know, I worked with Madden on the first two years ofMonday night football that I was there and he was great, but he was nopushover. You know, I had toe kinda earned my way with him and prove what Icould dio so, But it's fun being in that environment. I like being pushed.I like being pushed to the point where you do you know, you you just wanna Youjust wanna do everything right. You want to do it the right way. You wannabe the best at it that you could be? Um, but it ain't for the faint hearted.Its's a lot of work, but, you know, it's it's a lot of fun. It's reallyrewarding. So talk to me a little bit about when you're I mean, obviously,it's during the game. You're doing the...

...sideline reporting. It's like rightbefore half or after half. You're trying to grab that head Coach, Um, doyou come up with those questions or somebody? Where are you working withsomebody? Toe kind of go along with the storyline of the game, Are you? How doyou kind of determine what you're gonna ask him? Well, and we do those, unlike somebroadcast, we do those off camera because we believe we get the betterinformation when there's not a camera pointed at the guy. Now there have beensome circumstances. We did a Super Bowl where we talk to Doug Peterson athalftime walking off the field, and that was I was so grateful he did it.It was so insightful. But for the most part at regular season games, I'mtalking to those guys now. I do that all myself. We do have a silentproducer in the truck whom I bounce ideas off of, but we have done so muchpreparation during the week. You know, we've talked to each coach going intothe game during the week and our production meetings, so we know whatthey want to accomplish. We know what they're thinking about in terms of thestrategy for that game. We know what what their mindset is, and then, youknow, it either happens or it doesn't in the game. And so you want to combinewhat you've learned going into that game with what's actually happening inthe moment and you know better than anyone. It doesn't always happen theway you wanted toe happen. And so you know, and look, I'm just so gratefulthese guys are willing to talk to me at all that you tell me if you're trailing,what does it feel like walking into that locker room at halftime. Andaren't you just hell bent on correcting the problems? Well, I think that it's been soingrained to us as in the football world, like in the NFL, whether yourcoach or a player that that you're gonna have to talk to the press, you'regonna have toe communicate with the media like my whole career, like,terrible game. Terrible. Um, embarrassment. Whatever. I've had themall. You're gonna have to go and discuss this with the press, and you'regonna get tough questions, and they're not always gonna be what you want, andyou have to learn to deal with it. And if I think people see that if you can'tdeal with those things, how the heck are you going to coach a team, right?That's what I get at, right? You can't. You can't handle that like a twoquestion thing. Like, at that point, how are you gonna go in and talk toyour team at halftime and get them to rally? So I think that you know, I lovewhen I watch hockey because hockey there, right on the bench, doing it. Iwant you guys sometimes just to be like on a sideline, grab a guy sometime andsay, Hey, what were you thinking on that? Like, it would be incredible. Uh,it would be the best, you know, and yet we're not there yet. Uh, the MBA wasclose. I worked on the MBA for about eight years on ESPN and ABC, and youcould be in the hope, you know, you could listen, and you could be in it,But you could listen into the huddle. And most coaches were pretty okay withthat. And so you got a sense with the NFL. And this season has been reallydifferent, Gus, because you could hear everything this season with no fans inthe stadium. You know, you can hear all this stuff, but they've got you know,they don't want you to quote exactly what you've heard. So you couldcharacterize a conversation. You could sort of describe it, but until youuntil you get to have time with the coach, you can't really quote anyone.Um, but anyway, the coaches have been great. Um, this year was differentbecause rather than walking side by side with them off the field toward thetunnel and really getting a feel for, you know, their body language. Whattheir facial expressions were, who they were talking to is they were walking up.You were leaning over like the stands going. Hey, coach. And, you know,sometimes you had a mask on or they had a mask on and you're trying to heareach other and eso This year was quite different in that regard, but yeah, no,I Look, I think I'm versed enough to know what, what to ask in thosesituations. Andi, that's what I dio...

...if you ever caught yourself being a fanof the game while you're there and just watching it and kind of, you know whatI mean because sometimes you're a fan and like, it's exciting and you justspace out and you forget why you're there. Have you ever caught? Yeah, Ithink that's happened. I am quick to remind myself while I'm there. I try tostay very conscious of that. But there are moments. Sure, when you're watchingan exciting game or it's back and forth or, you know, yeah, you just go. You'relike biting your tongue, you know, You know, if you're accidentally caught ona camera shot and you're going? Yes, that would probably be not a good thing.So you have to stay. You know, you're staying objective. That is the job. Um,that's where sometimes I envy, like some of these home broadcast. You knowthat the team broadcasters who get Thio win I got to do that. When I coveredthe Olympics specifically in Rio, I covered swimming and we wereinterviewing almost exclusively the American swimmers after number onebecause they were succeeding number two because that's who our audience wasinterested in. And you, you kind of got to be a little bit more of a homer inthose instances. But when you're covering two teams, I yeah, you can'tdo that. So talk to me a little bit about the Olympics, becauseprofessional sports here in the US are so kind of regimen. You know, thetimeline and everything an Olympic seems like. It's more spread out. Likeif you gotta talk about a certain sports as swimming, are they pretty ona guideline? Is it easier to kind of study all that or is it way harderbecause seems like Olympics are more spread out Well, the best example I cangive you probably is the swimming, because that was That's my most recentmemory. The first Olympics I ever worked with the Winter Games in Nagano.And I was hosting the late night studio with Al Trautwig, and that was a blast.And you covered everything from figure skating. The hockey Thio lose toeverything. And you know you have research that's provided for you. Wehave these great research departments that call all the information andprepare help you prepare for it. Um, with swimming in Rio, I just I justdelved into all of the swimming research I could do. And it was I thinkthe 1st 10 days of the Olympics or all that swimming is condensed into thattime. There are other events going on all over the place, but you are given abeat, if you will. You are given an assignment. And my assignment was, uh,was this the aquatics, the swimming, not the diving, but it was fantastic.It was long days because we'd work that the heats In the morning we go back toour little office, this makeshift office and a parking lot and sleep onair mattresses for about an hour and a half, then get up and get ready for thebig competition that was airing in prime time. So it was a full day's work.You got home about two or three in the morning and you got up again the nextday and started over. And but it waas so fulfilling to be there for MichaelPhelps. Final Olympics was phenomenal. The storylines were great. There was somuch going on. The U. S did so well s Oh, I think you do. No matter whenyou're covering sports, if you're open to covering all of it, you have to be aquick study. You have to be a quick learner, and unfortunately I am. Andthat helped me a lot with swimming. Yeah, I think now may be wrong withthis, But, you know, you talk about Al Michaels a lot and somebody who canquick study a lot of different sports Seems like Alcon do that. And what agood mentor that would. You know, because you are like that. Youunderstand all sports very well, very fast. And it seems like Al is like thattoo. So is he helped you in that regard Well, just watching him and watchingChris and their work ethic has certainly helped. Um, it's they bothprovided examples in different ways. Um,...

...you know, we are all together in theseproduction meetings with players and coaches how they approach those. Um,how Chris does this film study is just unbelievable. I mean, unbelievable howmuch he prepares for a game. And s o, you know, again, it sets a high bar, Noquestion. But I think you know, I think ah, lot of my career happened before Imet Al, and I was just willing. I think you gotta be willing to say you want meto do downhill skiing and Kitzbuhel, Austria. Okay, I'll go, and I'll studymy brains out, and I'll do it. You know, You want me to do the College WorldSeries in Omaha? Okay on. Did you just commit yourself? It's kind of like whenyou go to college, Gus and you, you know, you can go to sociology at thistime. You're gonna get a French. At this time, you're gonna goto, you know,Polly side here and e con there, and you gotta learn all of them and inorder to pass your test. And that's pretty much what this iss eso I knowYour dad was a huge 40 Niners fan. My dad was just always a fan of all sportstoo. But when I got to the NFL, he always wanted to come to a game or, youknow, to get me something from this guy or you know what I mean? He just He wasold school, my dad on dso I'm thinking like the kind of fan your dad waas Youwill see that kind of guy because you were at a lot of games. You you got toego to a lot of games. Was he like, Hey, can you give me some tickets? You know,you come into town or how was your dad and your family with that eso at thattime? I wasn't in their neck of the woods very much, But I do remember oneof the most gratifying things for me was when I took him to a 40 Niners game.I was working s o. He got to come down on the field with me pre game. It waslike being around a little kid, you know, he wanted to pack eyes on theback and say, Go get him. You know, he waas out of his mind and it was sogreat. Um, you know, he My dad was a guy who, when the Olympics were in L. A.In 1984 he made sure that he could procure tickets to take his kids, andhe ahead of time, drove down toward the Coliseum and found a little side streetwhere he could park. And he talked to the neighbors there and he said, I'mgonna be bringing my family. I don't want to deal with, you know, $2030parking tickets can, you know, over the place Can we park here and walk? And Iremember we had these. This is so silly. But in our backyard we had orange andlemon trees, and we would pick fresh lemons and fresh oranges for the peoplewho let us park on their straight. And we bring them in the mornings beforethe Olympics, you know? And then we walk over the Coliseum and watch MaryDecker run or or whatever and eso he he you know, he always he was so into it.And, you know, he happened to go to Galileo High School, where O. J.Simpson happened to go. And I remember that one time. That was a real point ofpride for him. You know, he when he was a kid, he snuck into 4900 games thathe's our stadium. Um, you know, he he just Yeah, he he never really asked foranything. But when I offered, he was so excited. It was it was a joy to be ableto do that for him. He was a little He was a little shy with that stuff, but,um And then when I started doing play by play in the W N B A and even incollege basketball, he would tell me I sit on the couch and I watch, and I'mso nervous that you're going to screw up s my dad? Yeah. So it Z. Like I said,I'm glad that he was able to live long enough to see me, Do you know? Okay. Sothat it didn't make him nervous. Oh, yeah. My dad would be called home. Hey,Dad, would you think of the game? You...

...threw three interceptions. Why threwfour touchdowns, but you threw three interceptions. Why would you do that?You know, like it's the same. It's kind of the same thing there. So nervous.And that's how he was coming out. And I used to take him and his brother. Sowhen when he was still alive, toe the training camps When we have trainingcamp, you know, we'd be there three weeks. Well, him and his brothers wouldpull up. He was one of 15 kids, and they would pull up. It would be like a clown car, right?They'd pull up in all these old guys would get out, and I'd be like, OK,this is your area. You guys just stay here. And next thing you know, there'sone uncle talking to this coach, another uncle talking to that coach and,like, they're just spread out. And I'm just like, Oh, well, if you got the oh,a little bit e o. Yeah. My s o my dad's brother. Uncle Paul. His son Mitchplayed for the Buffalo Bills, Um, through three of those Super Bowls, andthen he moved on to Seattle. And so Uncle Paul kind of knew the grounds hefelt like I'm this old guy. I've been here before. I could go wherever I wantright now that he was always the one that was We called him the Wanderer E.I just I love stories like that. Yeah, you know, that was for me. Thatwas always so much fun. Um, but, you know, and I think about your career andjournalism now and compared to when you first came in in 90 I think about whenI first came in and what we had as faras Internet and connection andfinding out things. And now how fast it can come to you and how quick you coulddo it. How does that change journalism for you? And how does it change?Getting ready for a game? I mean, you're a quick learner, so I mean, youhave to be quicker. Yeah, well, to a certain extent, you do. But one of ourpolicies is always yes. Do we wanna be first? Absolutely. But we want to beright. We wanna be right. We don't wanna, you know, brush to something andat the expense of getting it right. So I'm very careful about that. My job,fortunately, doesn't require a tongue of social media or tweeting things out.And that's not like what we want to do, because our best stuff we want to savefor the air, you know? So if I learn something, I'm not necessarily going totweet it out or put it on anything because I want to save it for thebroadcast. Um, but yeah, I mean, it's it's interesting. Um, we found out whenJames White, uh, lost, you know, his mom and dad were in Miami and we're ina car accident prior to a game that Sunday, and we felt literally we foundout about two hours before kickoff that James wasn't gonna be playing becauseof this accident, and we had to move fast on Bond. We needed to be able toreport this respectfully, properly, correctly, Onda sensitively. And, uh,and and the team was not confirming or denying. And so it was It was verytough. Um, but that's when you dig in and you do your proper research and youtry to get in touch with the right people and you are able to say what youcan say. Um, I think the most challenging one for me was when GaryKubiak was coaching the Texans. This game was against. I want to say it wasagainst Indianapolis and he went. He went down at halftime. He he justcollapsed at halftime and we had to cover that. Yeah, live on the air. AndI was the person on the field to watch to collect information, to go find WadePhillips, who was filling in after Gary was taken to the hospital. All of thisstuff And, um, the game for me. At that point, the game was a footnote. Now mystore Iwas you know, this guy's life...

...was we thought on the line. And so whenyou're in that kind of a serious moment and you've seen the man on livetelevision lying on his back, um, that became our story. And so you know, Butthose situations are fraught with opportunities to screw up, try to getahead of it, and to say I think and you can't do I think you gotta know. Yougotta know. Yeah, and And if anybody knows, Gary is just amazing guy, he wasHe was my coach. And when I played for the Broncos and so I've known Gary fora long time, and he was in Minnesota in your neck of the woods for last fewyears as well. You know, after that whole incident happened with him, Ithought he might get out of coaching forever. But I think once it's in yourblood, it's in your blood. I don't think e don't think it's that easy toleave. Yeah, I know. And now he's stepped aside again. And I know theVikings air really gonna miss him because Zimmer relied on himtremendously. So what you're saying is we're notgoing to see any Michele Tafoya Ticktock videos on the sideline anytimesoon. God, no, no, no, no, no, you're not. Wetried to do some live tweets in commercial breaks a few years back, andthat was fine. But no, it's it's much better when I could just focus oninside the task at hand, right, You know, And one thing I wantedto talk to you about, and I know you've talked about this on on other shows. Mywife is in mental health and she works in women's behavioral health, and Iknow that there was a struggle for you, um, having Children and you dealt withmental health. And then this year I mean, you've gone through all that andyou're a strong, strong person and probably so many people look up to youbecause it's not an easy thing to talk about or deal with on. Do you havegreat support of your husband, but talk a little bit about the mental healththat you've seen through this year and the pandemic and the NFL and struggles?Did you guys have conversations about that? Did you wanna talk about that alittle more? You know, certainly It was a topic ofconversation every week with players, particularly with players that ended uptesting positive at some point. Or, you know we're going through it. I thinkthe universal feeling that we got was that it was really hard for these guys.And you try to imagine it, Gus, you know, you're used to being in thefacility, hanging out in the locker room, hanging out your meeting rooms.There were so much of it done virtually this year that players really feltseparated. Dak Prescott came out and said he found himself feeling depressedwhen the pandemic began and his brother had taken his own life. And Dak reallywent in this when in this tailspin, and he was very open about it for me.Personally, I think what has been difficult is seeing my kids and theircohorts around town not be able to go to school. Um, the first part of thepandemic last, you know, starting last March, I think it was not good for mykids. And it wasn't that the schools weren't prepared. They were prepared tohave zoom classrooms and all the rest, but to take kids away from their socialenvironment, it was very, very. And it continues to be Ah, hot point ofcontention. And my kids are now back two days a week, which is great. Um,but it isn't the same. And I think we are seeing it take a toll on a lot ofpeople. My mom is turning 90 in July. She has been, you know, everyone's beenso protective of her eso she hasn't gotten to see people is much as shewants s Oh, I think it's really been,...

...you know, difficult for everyone. ButI've tried to tell people. Look, look, read a little bit about World War Tworead a little bit about stuff that went on during the Depression. We all madeit through that. We can make it through this. And so this is the time when youlearn a lot about yourself. And so I've tried to make the most of all of thisand find opportunities for growth within it. Yeah, and that's so important. You know,just I have those struggles to I mean, don't leave home, right. There'snowhere to go. You know, this month is always, ah, hard Month for me, for thereason that our anniversary is the first of February. Then it'sValentine's Day that my wife's birthday is the 16th. So there's always like,Okay, I got a plan, all these things. So this year I'm like, Honey, we can'tgo anywhere like there's nowhere we can go because she's worked in a hospital.Luckily, she's had both vaccinations now, but I understand. Yeah, Iunderstand that, And for me, it is a difficult thing. And when kids come upto me and say, Well, I can't do that I said, Well, you're not alone. Everybodyis going through this right? So we will all get through this and we will all bestronger, Um, in the end. But I just think that your personality, how strongyou are has had to have an impact on your family on the people around youbecause you've just done so many great things in your career. And, you know,I've always looked up to you, and I appreciate you always being so kind toeveryone, right. It's not easy, right to be kind to everyone. I think you doan amazing job of that on and off the field. Well, that is That means theworld to me, Gus, that you even remember those interactions. And Ithink it Z I think it's worthless and a waste oftime to bring any anchor or negative emotion to your job to your life. Ofcourse, we all feel stuff. We all feel it, but I think one of the things thatI've really been focused on the last several years is you control one thing in your life, one on Lee one, and that's your mind. I'm not talkingabout your brain and how smart you are. It's about how you make up your mindevery day, toe look at something. So in the beginning of the pandemic, Iremember we were just like, Oh, how long is this gonna be or we're talkingTwo weeks. What are we talking it? And I suddenly realized we don't know and I've got no control.What am I gonna Am I going to come out of this whenever it's over Feeling likeI just wasted a bunch of time waiting, or am I gonna come out of it better?And so I made a list of things that wow, I have suddenly have time to do stuffthat I didn't have time to do it before, right? I have time to read. I have timeto write. I have time. Thio, pick up the phone and talk to my ah lot offriends. I have timeto exercise. I have time to learn to cook. And so that'swhy I think you saw a lot of people learning to bake and learning to cookand learning a new language or whatever. And I and I applaud that because youhad to sort of shift your mind. Thio. These were the circumstances. I don'thave control over what I do. Control is how I approach it. And so I've justalways felt like when you treat other people kindly on you, make up your mindthat you're gonna be positive in a situation you're probably going to getthat sent back your way. And even if you don't, at least you could walk awayfrom the conversation or the interview or the interaction feeling like I didmy part. I did my best, and that's all I could Dio. And if they were unhappywith me or they were a jerk to me, I If I let that affect me, Gus, then I'mpart of the problem because I'm allowing myself toe, let it affect me.I'm giving that person across the table for me the power to hurt me. And I'vedecided I'm not doing that. I'm just...

...not doing that. So if you wanna be ajerk and talk mean or say something bad on Twitter, um, that's your choice. ButI get to decide how I receive that. And so I just always believe in beingpositive and trying to spread that. Yeah, I know. I think that comesthrough in all the interviews because, um, coaches feel that people feel that,you know, there we see him as a coach, but they're humans to, you know, youthink about what Andy Reid had to go through before the game happened withthe sun and everything and all the emotions and he still coached. Uh, sowe're all just humans in, and I think you do an incredible job of it and evenfor you, like you probably thought when this all started, we're not gonna havea season. What am I gonna do in the fall? You know, it was it was all up inthe air. It really was. And I can tell you that there were a number of peopleon our crew who thought there's no way there's no way we're having a fullseason. No way. I mean, they just and I kind of looked at it as I'm just gonnatake this thing one day at a time. Do what I have to dio and we'll see whereit goes. And, you know, the league does deserve congratulations for the waythat it handled everything the teams deserve. Pats on the back for beingable thio, Um, stick to the all the those that did to stick toe all theprotocols right and go through it every day. I mean, what people didn't seewhat these guys went through, like drive to the facility in the morning,take your nasal swab test, drive back home, sit around, wait for your zoom tostart, and now be in your living room on a zoom meeting with your positiongroup or your offense or whatever all alone and then maybe driving again fora workout or for a walk through and then drive home. And now, look, noone's gonna pity these guys. I'm not saying that because they were allworking. They're making a lot of money, but it wasn't like a breeze. You know,it wasn't just easy. It required a lot of effort to keep everyone safe. Yeah,especially all the friends I have talked to. They're still playing and,uh, that our coaches now like even Ryan Fitzpatrick, right after the season. Hetest positive, and he can't see his family for 10 days after the season.He's quarantined in his his hotel room or his apartment in Miami. He can't seehis family, and he was going stir crazy. So It's been a crazy thing. One lastthing I wanna I wanna ask you. Obviously, yesterday was the Super Bowl.Now I want you to be a fan here, and, you know, it's it's over. We know whowon. But give me a little synopsis of what you thought. Your huge NFL fan.You've seen all these storylines, Uh, tell me a little bit about what youthought, um, about this game. And like, none of my predictions came true. I'mterrible. That stuff so that none of it came true. So, uh, tell me a little bitabout what you thought about the game. I, you know, look, early on, I thoughtWow. Okay. Each team, I think, had a three and out almost immediately.That's typical. Okay, that's not unusual. And then I thought Okay,Kansas City. Okay. Oh, there goes New England again. Wow. Oh, this lead isstretching. But you know what? We've got a whole second half to play, andwe've seen Kansas City do crazy things before. And we've seen Tom Brady throwinterceptions and a half, so we'll see. You know, I was I think a couple ofthings jumped out at me. When Tyron Matthew got really upset and God inBrady's face and was really irate on the sidelines, I was surprised. I knowtiring fairly well. Um, yeah, The game makes you emotional, and it could bringstuff out of you that normal life. Doesn't I get that? But I was surprisedthat it got so and Chris Jones to Who is one of the funniest, nicest,sweetest people you're ever gonna meet...

...and, you know, cost his team with thepenalty, and those penalties were just killing them. And I thought, Okay, thishas got to change at halftime, and it didn't much. Maybe they weren'tpenalized as much, but for those kinds of things, But they just could not findthe groove. And I Then I just realized, you know what? This Tampa Bay defenseis way better than I thought it waas. And I underestimated how much losinghis two starting tackles was really gonna impact Patrick Mahomes and thisoffense, and you know it. There just came a point where you sort of settledinto the idea that you know what? This isn't going right for Casey. We canpoint to a lot of reasons why this is going really well. For Tom Brady andcompany. We can point to a lot of reasons. Why? And I think a major onewas that defense shock Barrett. A lot of these guys, they were justtremendous, right? And, um And then I try to tell myself you're watchingsports history like Gus. You know, there are a lot of people out there wholove to hate Tom Brady. You know, they love to hate him. They love to hate thepatriots. They love to hate him. You're watching history here. Enjoy it. Youknow, enjoy. Enjoy what you're seeing because you're likely not going to seeanything like this again. And, um, you know, Yes, he seems like this goldenboy, This golden child, the whole the whole life story. But you cannot takeany of this away from this man and what he's accomplished at age 43. And, youknow, I remember my dad and your dad, and your uncle is probably did the same.They tell you the stories about Mickey Mantle, about Joe DiMaggio, aboutWillie Mays, about these great moments of Jesse Owens, These great moments insports that they were live for and it seemed like, Oh, that's ancient gosh,but it sounds so cool. It sounds like it was so amazing. That's what we'resaying. It's so cool and it's so amazing. And we're watching it now andwe'll be telling our kids and grandchildren about it and just kind ofsaber that. That's what I decided to dio Yeah, now I agree with you. I love howthey depicted, like, the old school versus new school with, you know, uh,Tom versus Patrick and it is right to really, really good quarterbacks.Obviously, once the Goat one is trying to get there. And that was a greatdynamic in the game. And I thought the other thing that was really cool wasthat was the first Super Bowl where it was played in the home. That home teamgot to play in it. I thought that was amazing to that. I don't think we'llprobably ever see that again. And, um, you know, I don't know unless Tom Bradycomes back, maybe they'll have it in Tampa. But you know how this goes out.There is years and years of it, and I don't know if you ever see that again?It z Yeah, the whole big picture of it was amazing. The fact that it wasplayed with socially distance fans and fewer of them. All of it is just amemory in the making, and we're gonna look back on it. And the people whowere wearing masks and our grandkids we're gonna go. Why were they wearingmasks? And you're gonna explain it to him and the whole bit. And so while Iwished for a more competitive game, Um, I'll tell you this some of thosemoments with Patrick Mahomes in the second half where he ran for, like, sixmiles before throw and then almost hitting his targets, right? You're like,how is he doing that? And those were really cool, so I know they lost. Butyou gotta give it up to Patrick Mahomes for those moments. Those were amazing.They were incredible. One where he was kind of sideways to the ground,parallel to the ground. He threw it. The guy literally hits the running backin the hands and should have caught take away. The whole game was, you know,it was just amazing story, you know,...

...not only Tom, but Gronk to you. Thinkabout a guy who took a year off and came back and just two catches in theSuper Bowl. Like their all time leaders in history and touchdowns together,they beat Jerry Rice on Joe Montana, and I don't think anybody's ever gonnacatch them like there's so many great storylines from this game. There trulywere. There truly were, and under normal circumstances, it would havebeen a zoo in that place. It would have been excitement off the charts. Um, itjust you know, all of that got a little bit dampened, but for sitting at homeand watching it, it was something else. And yeah, it was fun to see Gronk beable to get a couple touchdown catches. And I, you know, all year we wondered,you know, is Gronk gonna be Gronk? But when the time's mattered, he was drunk,right? Great. Uh, halftime show. Good or bad? Would you like, Do you like it off? My audio was off a little bit, butI really like the music of the weekend. I dio I like him. I thought some of theshow was kind of odd, but kind of a cool way. I almost got sick when he wasin that gold tunnel thing. Like the house of mirrors or whatever. I waslike, Oh, my God. I can't watch this, but yeah, that's true. We're not usedto that, like, virtual reality way can't handle. I get seasick. But, youknow, it was People always love to pan these shows. And, gosh, I've seen somegreat ones, and, you know, there are only gonna be a few that stand out.Kind of like the games themselves. Prince YouTube, Bruno Mars. Those airthree that come to mind The Rolling Stones that were great. But, you know,it was okay. It was okay. Yeah, I kind of felt the same way, too. And my firstthought I had was when he was in that room is how is he going to get out ofthere? He's gonna get lost their home. Yeah. Then he kind of just disappearedamong all the people with their faces covered like they are. That was kind ofcool. Um, last thing before we go, please let our audience know where theyconfined you next. Or if there's any charities that you'd love them to go onsupport. And you know what you're gonna be doing now that the season is over?Where is Michele Tafoya? Going where? We're going to see your land next. Well,we're waiting to find out if will be in Tokyo for the Olympic Games, and it'svery much 50 50 50 s. Oh, my next, like actual assignment would be covering theuse A trials in Omaha, Nebraska. Those will probably only happen if we'regoing to the Olympics, right? And so, um, the schedule was to go toe Oh, Mahaand then go with the team to their training camp in Singapore and then goon to Tokyo for the games. I just don't have a clue, Gus, what's gonna happenhere? I know that people keep insisting that there will be an Olympic Games,but I don't know if NBC is going to send all of its announcers. I don'tknow how this is gonna work, so I'm kind of in a holding pattern that way.But I gotta tell you, I'm just loving being home with my two kids right now.I am cherishing these moments because they're so few and far between theirfleeting time goes by so fast as you know, and eso and then I'm not onsocial media anymore because I just again it just seems like a waste of mytime and energy. Andi, I don't really like, uh, some of the environmentsthere, so there's really no way to follow me. Alright, alright, alright.Well, enjoy. Hopefully your kids like monopoly. I play that with my boys allthe time. I never win because they still all my money. It's just like mylife. I know, I know we do. We enjoy Monopoly to We played one night with mywife and my she was losing. She's like...

I'm tired to go to bed. She just givesall her money to my other son. And I'm like, Wait, that's not fair. You can'tdo that like that's just because I'm bequeathing my my property and my moneyto my son. It's basically what she said. It's my money. I could do with it whatI want. So I said Okay, I lost. Well, hey, Michelle, I want to thank you forjoining me on huddle up with Gus. It was a pleasure. You're one of the kindist most endearing people I've ever met in football, and I want to thank youfor all you do. Thank you, Gus. It's been a pleasure. And I had so much funand you're very kind. Thank you. Thank you. Have a great day. I hope itdoesn't snow too much. And I hope it gets a little bit warmer in Minnesota. Have little will be good for you toenjoy Pittsburgh. All right, take care. Thanks, Michelle Number. Hi. This is former NFL quarterback GusFrerotte, 16 31. Digital advertising is your one stop shop to promote yourbusiness and get new customers for award winning creative to getting asonline in display video O T T connected TV and streaming audio Go to 16 31digital advertising dot com.

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