Sage Steele Leaving ESPN After Settling Lawsuit

Sage Steele
Sage Steele / Logan Riely/GettyImages

One of the stranger ESPN sagas in recent memory came to a close today as SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele announced she was leaving the four-letter network now that her legal issues with the company are over. Last spring Steele sued ESPN for violating her free speech rights, and after a year of battle in court (during which Steele stayed on-air) the two sides agreed to settle.

Steele said she would be leaving to find a place where she can exercise her First Amendment rights "more freely".

The terms of the settlement have not been revealed. Earlier this summer, Front Office Sports reported Steele turned down a settlement offer worth over $500,000 and her attorney Bryan Freedman aggressively rebuffed the offer with a public statement to the New York Post:

“Disney and ESPN clearly admit their liability by offering to pay Sage Steele more than half a million dollars for taking away her right to free speech. The offer misses the point. Disney cannot purchase their employee’s constitutional rights no matter how powerful they think they are,” Freedman told The Post in a statement.

It is unclear what changed between then and now but an apology from ESPN and/or Disney doesn't seem to be in the cards.

It was terribly weird turning on the TV and seeing Steele with the knowledge she was locked in a legal battle with her employer. A unique situation that we may never see again. Several places come to mind immediately as opportunities for Steele to engage in what she believes to be her First Amendment rights, but both sides are undoubtedly glad to put this all behind them.