NBC announced on Thursday that they've tapped Maria Taylor to replace Mike Tirico as host of "Football Night in America," the pre-show that airs before "Sunday Night Football."
“Maria is the perfect choice to carry the legacy forward of anchoring the most-watched studio show in sports,” NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood said in a statement.
"Football Night in America" needed a new lead after Mike Tirico, NBC's ubiquitous sports host, was moved over to SNF play-by-play. He's taking the seat that had been occupied by Al Michaels, who decamped to Amazon's Prime Video after NBC declined to renew his contract.
Taylor has been at NBC Sports since late July, just days after her contract with ESPN expired. Since then, she's been very busy. In her first days at her new network, Taylor took on hosting duties for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In addition to that, Taylor has hosted the 2022 Beijing Olympics, the Super Bowl LVI Pregame Show, and served as co-host of "Football Night in America" for the 2021 NFL season.
Taylor's fraught departure from ESPN
Taylor left ESPN under circumstances that were not the greatest. In July 2021, an ESPN employee leaked a recording of reporter Rachel Nichols (who has since left ESPN), alleging that ESPN only gave Taylor the job of hosting the 2020 NBA Finals because of the network's "crappy longtime record on diversity." Nichols did not know she was being recorded.
That reportedly set off a firestorm at ESPN, with employees calling out how their employer had (poorly) handled issues of race and gender in the past. According to the New York Times, ESPN made promises to Taylor in response to the Nichols incident, but almost immediately broke them — and Taylor wasn't happy about it.
Contract negotiations between Taylor and ESPN then broke down. She had a lot of interest from other networks, so despite ESPN reportedly offering her $3 million to stay, Taylor decided to move on to NBC.