Longtime ESPN host Sage Steele has made headlines in recent days after an appearance on “The Uncut with Jay Cutler” podcast in which she made several comments that generated controversy, including saying that Disney’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for its employees “is sick and it’s scary to me in many ways.” Beyond that, Steele questioned the Blackness of former president Barack Obama, saying in reference to his identifying as Black on his Census forms, “I’m like, ‘Well, congratulations to the president, that’s his thing.’ I think that’s fascinating considering his Black dad was nowhere to be found, but his white mom and grandma raised him, but hey, you do you. I’m going to do me.”
Steele said she is sorry that her comments “created controversy for the company,” while ESPN said that it was in the midst of direct conversations with the SportsCenter anchor. In the aftermath, Front Office Sports reports, Steele won’t be on the air for at least the next week and will miss out on the espnW: Women + Sports Summit, where she was previously scheduled to appear as a host.
While it is unclear if this is directly in response to what she had to say — which Front Office Sports reports got a ton of heat within the walls of the Worldwide Leader, which did not specific if this was “due to internal discipline or possible suspension” — Steele’s absence will, in part, be due to the fact that she tested positive for COVID-19.
Steele has tested positive for COVID-19, according to sources. But her not appearing on air goes beyond her diagnosis.
Her critical comments about Disney did not over well in Bristol or Burbank. Both ESPN and Steele thought it was appropriate for her to take some time off, said sources.
Steele explained to Cutler that did receive the vaccine in accordance with ESPN’s mandate.