Front Office Sports has learned that ESPN anchor Sage Steele has been fired.
According to reports, the co-anchor of the noontime show “SportsCenter” is likely to be out for at least a week. Steele is also said to be skipping her role as host of the espnW: Women + Sports Summit on Oct. 18-20.
According to reports, Steele tested positive for COVID-19. Her failure to appear on television, however, extends beyond her diagnosis.
Former ESPN talent, including Jemele Hill and Keith Olbermann, have criticised the ESPN anchor for her expressed opposition to vaccination injections required by ESPN and parent Walt Disney Co., as well as her recent podcast remarks against Barack Obama.
In Bristol and Burbank, her critical remarks about Disney did not go down well. According to reports, both ESPN and Steele felt it was fair for her to take some time off. On Tuesday morning, Steele apologised publicly for her recent remarks. The situation is being addressed internally, according to ESPN.
Steele said, “I understand my recent remarks caused problems for the business, and I apologise.”
Steele’s absence is due to internal punishment or potential suspension, according to the network.
In a statement, ESPN stated, “We are having direct discussions with Sage, and those conversations will remain private.”
Steele protested to the “sick and frightening” requirement that all Disney workers get vaccinated by Sept. 30 during an interview on “The Uncut with Jay Cutler” podcast.
Steele is also facing backlash for questioning Obama’s decision to declare himself a Black person on a census form. Steele replied, “Well, congrats to the President, that’s his thing.” “I find it interesting that his Black father is nowhere to be discovered, but his white mother and grandmother reared him, but that’s OK. You make your own decisions. I’m going to take care of myself.”
Steele has had a number of important on-air positions throughout her 14-year tenure at ESPN, including host of “NBA Countdown” and the Tournament of Roses Parade broadcast on sister Disney network ABC.
Steele’s removal off the air may be a wise move by ESPN to defuse the situation, but other insiders believe that, like Hill and Michelle Beadle, the network may wind up buying out her contract.
“This seems to be heading toward a buyout,” a source added.