Bill Simmons isn’t reflexively buying NBC’s explanation for Michele Tafoya’s three-week absence from “Sunday Night Football.”
An NBC spokesperson told The Post’s Andrew Marchand that Tafoya will be back next week.
“As we’ve done repeatedly, we’re again giving our SNF announcers bye weeks in 2021, and we plan to do it well into the future,” NBC said of her lengthy absence.
The titular host of “The Bill Simmons Podcast” thought there might be something more going on than just standard time off.
“There’s some good conspiracy stuff going on about this,” Simmons said. “Because she hosted ‘The View’ in the beginning of November. She was in the conservative seat, then a couple weeks later, all of a sudden, just on a bye. Taking a break.
“It would be one thing if the show was on 52 weeks a year, but it’s only on 17 weeks a year. Do you need three weeks off during a 17-week season?”
Kathryn Tappen has been filling in for Tafoya. Tafoya, 56, has been at NBC since 2011. Previous to that, she did sidelines on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”
During Tafoya’s appearances on “The View,” she shared that she did not have that much sympathy for Colin Kaepernick being out of the NFL and goaded the audience to “bring it on” when getting jeered.
Marchand pointed out that Tafoya did a few “Sunday Night Football” games on the sidelines in between her “View” appearance and apparent three-week hiatus. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth take a couple dates off a year now, and Mike Tirico and Drew Brees have filled in. Nevertheless, there have been some out there, like Simmons, who think she might be under some sort of shadow ban after agitating progressives.
Simmons closed his point by saying that, if he were Tafoya, he would be leery of an understudy gaining traction.
“If I’m Michele Tafoya, aren’t you protecting your seat?” Simmons asked. “I don’t want anybody guest-sideline reporting for me. What if they’re better than me?”