NFL TV Reporters Face New Challenge With No Field Access
NFL network sideline reporters and TV pregame reporters for the NFL "will be prohibited from field access this season," and NBC's Michele Tafoya for the Texans-Chiefs opener tonight "will be located in an unprecedented area for her -- the first row of the stands -- with a wireless monitor that travels with her," according to Richard Deitsch of THE ATHLETIC. That area is being called "the moat." Tafoya said that it is her understanding that she "can move around the entire first row of any stadium where 'Sunday Night Football' airs games." The "SNF" production "will have another set of eyes on the opposite sideline from Tafoya to focus on things such as injuries," and that person will be Mike Ryan, a former NFL athletic trainer who has worked on the broadcast since '14 as a sports medicine consultant. Fox' Laura Okmin believes that "on-air reporting during games will provide vital information" in this year specifically. One question will be "whether the halftime and postgame interviews with coaches and players will continue." NBC is "still working on its halftime and postgame interview plans." Tafoya said that she "hopes to set up a meeting point to speak with coaches at the players' entrance tunnel as the team walks into the locker room at halftime." CBS' Tracy Wolfson "will also be situated in an area in the first row of the stands that is sectioned off for the sideline reporters" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/9).
MAKING IT WORK: Tafoya said that she "plans to adjust in many ways, including gathering more information for reports before games start and bringing binoculars for the first time in her career to be able to see things up close." She said that "SNF" crew members "will be far more isolated than in typical years," which "will make verbal communication even more important." NBC "SNF" Exec Producer Fred Gaudelli said that the "crews working on graphics and editing will be back at NBC Sports headquarters in Stamford." In Minneapolis, Michael Rand notes Tafoya's live reports at halftime and postgame "will vary." She said that at some stadiums she "might conduct interviews over the phone with coaches." In other places, a coach "might meet her in the stands for a socially distanced interview" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/10).