ESPN Anchor Apologizes For Calling Company’s Vaccine Mandate ‘Sick’

ESPN anchor Sage Steele apologized Tuesday after comments made on ESPN’s vaccination requirements while on Jay Cutler’s podcast, “Uncut with Jay Cutler.” 

“I know my recent comments created controversy for the company, and I apologize. 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,” Steele said in a statement. 

On Cutler’s podcast last week, Steele discussed ESPN’s vaccine mandate, calling it “sick” and “scary.” 

“I work for a company that mandates it and I had until September 30th to get it done or I’m out,” she said.

“I respect everyone’s decision, I really do, but to mandate it is sick and it’s scary to me in many ways,” Steele continued. “I just, I’m not surprised it got to this point, especially with Disney, I mean a global company like that.”

As The Daily Wire reported, the Walt Disney company — which owns ESPN — mandated that employees receive the vaccine before September 30th or face termination. 

“At ESPN, we embrace different points of view – dialogue and discussion makes this place great,” the company said. “That said, we expect that those points of view be expressed respectfully, in a manner consistent with our values, and in line with our internal policies. We are having direct conversations with Sage and those conversations will remain private.”

According to Front Office Sports, Steele will not appear on SportCenter this week and will not be a host of the upcoming espnW: Women + Sports Summit. While FOS reports that Steele has tested positive for COVID, her recent comments on Cutler’s podcast is also playing a role in her absence.

Steele is known for not going along with left-wing political trends, even reportedly being iced out an ESPN special on race after two colleagues said that the biracial Steele “would not be accepted by the black community,” according to The Daily Wire. 

“I found it sad for all of us that any human being should be allowed to define someone’s ‘Blackness,’” the anchor told The Wall Street Journal in 2020. “Growing up biracial in America with a Black father and a white mother, I have felt the inequities that many, if not all Black and biracial people have felt—being called a monkey, the ‘n’ word, having ape sounds made as I walked by—words and actions that all of us know sting forever.”

“Most importantly, trying to define who is and isn’t Black enough goes against everything we are fighting for in this country, and only creates more of a divide,” Steele added.

Steele is not the only ESPN employee to be impacted by the company’s vaccine mandate. 

Although the CDC has encouraged pregnant women to get vaccinated against COVID-19, Allison Williams — who covers college basketball and college football — announced in September that she would not be getting vaccinated as she and her husband try for their second child, meaning that she will be unable to be on the sidelines for the college football season. 

While my work is incredibly important to me, the most important role I have is as a mother. Throughout our family planning with our doctor, as well as a fertility specialist, I have decided not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at this time while my husband and I try for our second child. This was a deeply difficult decision to make and it’s not something I take lightly. I understand vaccines have been essential in the effort to end this pandemic; however, taking the vaccine at this time is not in my best interest. After a lot of prayer and deliberation, I have decided I must put my family and personal health first. I will miss being on the sidelines and am thankful for the support of my ESPN family. I look forward to when I can return to the games and job that I love.

Steele supported Williams’ decision on Twitter, saying “I couldn’t possibly respect you more for making this decision — the best decision for you & your family. God bless, Allison…I will be praying for you!”

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to

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