Michele Tafoya was a 28-year-old sports talk radio host in the heart of college basketball country Authentic Dontae Johnson Jersey , embarking on a long-desired vocation in an unforgiving field when she felt her first career boost from a bold on-air prediction.
Cal will beat Duke.
That’s what Tafoya told her listeners that defining March day in 1993 on WAQS-AM in Charlotte, North Carolina, a place with an abundance of ardent NCAA Tournament followers and, naturally, self-appointed experts.
The Blue Devils were the two-time defending national champions and an established power from a haven state of hoops.
The Golden Bears, despite the presence of star point guard Jason Kidd and a no-slouch No. 6 seed in the Midwest Region, had no such pedigree. They also happened to be the team from Tafoya’s alma mater, prompting predictable howls of foolish bias.
Well, guess who won that second-round game?
Cal 82, Duke 77, was the final score. Apologies were the star of the show the following day.
”I give the fans credit. They all called in. The phones were lit for hours. Everybody was saying, `We’re sorry we doubted you. Clearly, you knew what you were talking about. You weren’t picking with your heart,”’ Tafoya said. ”My stature as a person with some knowledge shot up that day in a 24-hour period.”
Making sure she knows what she’s talking about has been the driving force behind Tafoya’s rise to sideline reporter for the NFL’s showcase Sunday night games on NBC .
She’ll work her fourth Super Bowl on Sunday in Minnesota, where this Southern California native first moved in 1994 for a job with KFAN-AM as a sports talk host and Vikings sideline reporter.
She continues to call the Twin Cities area home , with her husband, Mark, 12-year-old son, Tyler Authentic Ryan Jensen Jersey , and 9-year-old daughter, Olivia.
”She usually knows more than what’s going on more than we do, because she talks with so many different players through the course of the week,” NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth said.
”You can tell the respect level that the players have and the coaches have for her. It’s a difficult job.”
Asking questions of coaches and players in real time on the field amid the intense NFL atmosphere with millions of viewers critiquing word choice, speaking style and wardrobe is a daunting assignment.
As is working in the professional sports environment as a woman, a glass ceiling that Tafoya has helped smash with predecessors such as Lesley Visser and contemporaries such as Suzy Kolber.
”I don’t think I have to fight it anymore. I’ve been doing this long enough. I’m old now,” Tafoya said Wednesday at the Mall of America, the media headquarters for Super Bowl week.
”You do this long enough, and people start to trust you. It was tough for quite a while the first few years, but that’s why I always felt like I had to prepare like crazy.”
Tafoya has been doing promotional work for Secret deodorant, with a campaign spotlighting women in the football world who’ve overcome the catcalls, prejudice and machismo to stand out in the field.
”I’ve never been one of those `I am woman, hear me roar’ kind of people. I’m more about being a professional. I’m going to do my job. I’m going to do it to the best of my ability,” she said. ”I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman.”
With NBA finals and Olympic Games also standing out on her football-centric resume, Tafoya has been nominated six times for a Sports Emmy award. Her proudest moment, she said, actually came when the sports part of her reporter responsibilities was sidelined by a health emergency when then-Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak suffered a mini-stroke at halftime of a game in 2013 .
Tafoya was interviewing Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell at the time, trying to ignore the shouts of her producer in her earpiece. Once finished and informed of Kubiak’s collapse, she sprinted across the field to try to see what was going on and fill in the concerned viewers.
”I was a journalist covering an emergency situation Authentic Vinny Curry Jersey , and it was the story of the week, and we covered it really, really well,” Tafoya said, ”all of us as a team.”
The NBC crew wouldn’t have it any other way.
”I don’t think a lot of people understand and say, `What do you need sideline reporters for?”’ said play by play announcer Al Michaels.
”She can get information to us that we can’t get. She sees things. She understands the game as well as anybody, and for my money she’s as good as any reporter as there is in the country.”
Jackie Bradley Jr. never doubted he would pull out of his slump, even as he hit .167 in June and fell further down Boston’s batting order.
He kept putting in the work. Kept tinkering with his stance and his swing. Kept believing he would snap out of it.
”You have to trust that what you’re doing is going to produce results,” Bradley said after his second straight three-hit game helped the Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-1 on Tuesday night.
”If it doesn’t early on, it’s a long season,” said Bradley, who batted ninth and drove in four runs. ”You’ve just got to continue to grind. There’s no other way.”
Mookie Betts homered on John Lamb’s first pitch of the game, and J.D. Martinez hit his major league-leading 24th home run to back David Price’s six strong innings and lead the Red Sox to their fourth win in the last five games. The Angels lost their fourth straight game.
Christian Vazquez also hit one of Boston’s four homers to help Price (9-5) bounce back from his previous loss on Wednesday in Minnesota that was his first since May 3. He allowed five hits on Tuesday, including a solo homer to Chris Young, and two walks while striking out seven.
Bradley has now had back-to-back multi-hit games after producing just five in his previous 68 games this season. He had three hits, all singles, against Seattle on Sunday but still entered the night hitting .189.
”We all want the results now,” Bradley said. ”Sometimes the game’s a lot tougher than that. You can do everything right and still be out.”
Two-time AL MVP Mike Trout, who began the game batting .387 in June Authentic Jonathan Allen Jersey , singled in four at-bats for the Angels while serving as designated hitter to aid his recovery from a sprained right index finger. The Angels went hitless in their last three innings against Boston’s bullpen and fell into fourth place in the AL West for the first time since opening day.
Betts’ homer into the Red Sox bullpen sent right fielder Michael Hermosillo crashing over the wall in pursuit. It was his 15h career leadoff homer, extending his franchise record.
”Trying to set the tone against a good team,” Betts said. ”Just letting them know we’re here and we’re ready to go.”
Lamb (0-1) got just five outs. He allowed five runs, three earned, on six hits and a pair of walks.
He escaped more damage in the first after Betts’ 20th homer of the season, then was removed in the second after giving up Bradley’s two-run double and two more run-scoring hits.
”It was just a nice welcome to Fenway ballpark I guess by one of the better baseball players in the game right now,” Lamb said. ”I tried to get ahead on the outside part of the plate and they went ahead in the run column.”
Deck McGuire needed just one pitch to end that inning, but he surrendered solo homers to Bradley in the third and Vazquez in the fifth before Martinez hit one in the sixth that made it 8-1.
IN A JAM
Price only had trouble in the third, when Young homered and then the Angels loaded the bases with two out on two singles, a wild pitch and a walk. He retired Albert Pujols on a grounder to third to end the inning.
”Pujols can tie the game at that point,” Price said. ”To get that ground ball is big.”
Angels: McGuire was checked out by the team athletic trainer after Christian Vazquez lined a ball up the middle in the third inning, but he remained in the game.
Red Sox: Knuckleballer Steven Wright was put on the 10-day DL with left knee inflammation, and RHP reliever Justin Haley was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.
Angels: LHP Andrew Heaney (4-5, 3.43 ERA) gets his first start since going seven innings and allowing one earned run on Friday against Toronto. Heaney has pitched at least seven innings in three of his last four starts.
Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (9-3, 3.44) has allowed two earned runs or less in four of his last five starts, holding the Twins to one hit over seven scoreless innings in his last turn on Thursday.