Report: ESPN Pulls Sage Steele Off Air Amid COVID-19 Diagnosis, Controversy

Steele recently tested positive after calling parent company Disney’s inoculation mandate “sick” and “scary”

Sage Steele attends the Kentucky Derby in 2017
Sage Steele attends the Kentucky Derby in 2017 in Louisville.
Robin Marchant/Getty

SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele, who was demoted to a less-watched edition of the show earlier this year, has been removed from the air by ESPN after testing positive for COVID-19, according to Front Office Sports.

The 48-year-old was vaccinated, but called parent company Disney’s inoculation mandate “sick” and “scary” and said that she didn’t want to get the jab but did it in order to preserve her job.

“I respect everyone’s decision, I really do, but to mandate it is sick and it’s scary to me in many ways,” Steele said during an appearance on the podcast of ex-NFL quarterback Jay Cutler, who is also an on-the-record anti-vaxxer. “I’m not surprised it got to this point, especially with Disney, I mean a global company like that.”

Thanks to those comments, as well as some she made about former president Barack Obama, Steele may be out of work regardless.

While speaking with the former QB, Steele started discussing Obama’s racial identity for some reason and speculated that he would identify as Black while filling out the U.S. Census because biracial is not an option.

“Congratulations to the President, that’s his thing,” Steele said. “I think that’s fascinating considering his Black dad is nowhere to be found but his white mom and grandma raised him, but okay. You do you. I’m gonna do me. Listen, I’m pretty sure my white mom was there when I was born. And my white family loves me as much as my Black family.”

Steele’s former colleague Keith Olbermann was less than impressed with what she had to say. “When a year ago I felt it was necessary to resume my political commentary, I resigned from ESPN with a lot of time on my deal and a new one under discussion, to save them any anxiety,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’ve seen others there threatened over opaque, accidental political references. Sadly, Sage Steele has a long rep there for trying to blow up the careers of co-anchors and other co-workers. Mind of an assassin, no aim, always wounding herself. But this stuff, especially the Obama part, is intolerable. They need to take her off the air, immediately.”

Apparently, the higher-ups in Bristol, as well as Disney’s HQ in Burbank, agree and have pulled Steele off of the air so she can take some time off.

Steele, who agreed that it was appropriate for her to take some time off and did apologize for her comments, may end up being bought out of her contract and there is a possibility she won’t be back on the air at ESPN, per FOS.

“This looks like it could be tracking to a buyout,” a source told the publication. At least she got vaccinated first.

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