ESPN’s Sage Steele, after expressing disgust over the network’s vaccine policy, has not only been taken off air for the comments — she has also now tested positive for COVID-19.
Steele will also not be attending the ESPNW Summit next week, a person with knowledge of the situation told the TheWrap. The source said Steele’s break from air was determined to be in everyone’s best interest.
The “SportsCenter” anchor had made the anti-vax comments on Jay Cutler’s podcast last week.
On an episode of “Uncut with Jay Cutler” Steele told Cutler that she thinks the network’s vaccine mandate is “sick” and “scary,” despite having taken the vaccine right before her appearance on Cutler’s podcast. ESPN started mandating vaccines in May for all on-site employees. Their deadline for on-site or in-person staff at events or games was earlier in August. Parent company Disney’s larger deadline for getting vaccinated was Sept. 30.
Steele apologized Tuesday morning for the reaction that her comments created.
“I know my recent comments created controversy for the company, and I apologize,” she wrote in a statement provided to TheWrap. “We are in the midst of an extremely challenging time that impacts all of us, and it’s more critical than ever that we communicate constructively and thoughtfully.”
ESPN also issued a statement regarding Steele’s remarks.
“At ESPN, we embrace different points of view — dialogue and discussion makes this place great,” the network said in a statement provided to TheWrap. “That said, we expect that those points of view be expressed respectfully, in a manner consistent with out values, and in line with out internal policies.”
Front Office Sports first reported the news Tuesday.