MINNEAPOLIS –Michele Tafoya has a hard time remembering being on the sidelines for a more exciting game. Wearing purple and gold, quarterback Brett Favre warmed up before facing his former team, the division-rival Green Bay Packers, for the first time.
"The whole day was just electric," Tafoya recalled. "I just remember walking into the [Metrodome] thinking, 'I can't wait to watch this game.' "
Tafoya, who grew up in California but now considers herself a tried-and-true Minnesotan, gave a presentation to a group of female Vikings staff members and wives of employees Tuesday. During the hour, Tafoya highlighted a few moments from her career as a sideline reporter for ESPN's Monday Night Football *and NBC's *Sunday Night Football.
Her top moment, Tafoya said, was speaking with Favre after he led the Vikings to a 30-23 victory over the Packers on Oct. 5, 2009.
Prior to kickoff, Tafoya was approached by a network executive and told that if the Vikings won, she could take as long as she wanted with Favre's post-game interview instead of being limited to a couple of questions.
The experience was one she'll never forget.
"We have a photo in our house," Tafoya said. "You can barely see me, but you know it's me, and there's the back of Brett's head, and there's a sea of cameras. I love having that picture and remembering that I got to be a part of it."
That night, the Vikings-Packers matchup became the highest-rated cable show in television history. To commemorate the event, Tafoya received a football signed by Favre. That football now sits beside the photo in her living room.
"To be a Minnesotan and get to be in that moment and talk to Brett, who is one of the greatest all-time talkers in the game, [was unforgettable]," Tafoya said. "He's legendary."
View images from the Vikings Women's Breakfast on Tuesday, March 1st.
Tafoya's other career highlight occurred after Super Bowl XLIX last year, when Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepted Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to seal a victory for New England.
Not much more than a jersey number entering the game, Butler became a superstar in one play, and Tafoya knew he would be her post-game interview.
"I had to stalk this poor kid," Tafoya said. "Here's this guy, Malcolm Butler, he's barely played all season, and he steps in and wins the Super Bowl for the Patriots. Tom Brady didn't do that. Malcom-freaking-Butler did that.
"It becomes your life's mission at that moment to get that guy," Tafoya said.
Tafoya located Butler on the sideline, preparing for an interview as confetti floated from the rafters and play-by-play announcer Al Michaels closed out the game.
"I've got him right there. Camera, lights, Malcolm," Tafoya remembered. "Al said, 'Let's go down to Michele Tafoy—"
Before Michaels even finished the sentence, Butler started running away from Tafoya across the field.
"I just start running after Malcolm, because I thought, 'I have to get this,' " Tafoya said.
After finally catching up to Butler, Tafoya was able to ask her questions and conduct the interview.
"It was just so intense and so scary and so fun," Tafoya said excitedly, re-living the moment. "Thrilling. Just awesome."
To this day, Tafoya says she has never watched the moment on tape.
Everything came full circle during the 2015 season when Tafoya and the *Sunday Night Football *crew met with the Patriots and invited Butler to one of the production meetings. During the meeting, Butler was asked how he knew his life had really changed, that he had really made it big in the NFL.
"Well, there was this reporter," Butler said. "She chased me down the field at the Super Bowl."