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Sage Steele Was Fine With Business Decisions and Free Speech Repercussions For Colin Kaepernick in 2017

By Stephen Douglas
The Players Tailgate hosted By Guy Fieri, L.A. 2022 presented by Bullseye Event Group for Super Bowl
The Players Tailgate hosted By Guy Fieri, L.A. 2022 presented by Bullseye Event Group for Super Bowl / Jesse Grant/GettyImages
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Sage Steele, who will anchor today's noon SportsCenter, is suing ESPN and the network's parent company Disney, according to the Wall Street Journal. Steele's lawsuit has to do with a possible suspension that occurred in the fall following comments she made about ESPN's vaccine policy on Jay Cutler's podcast.

At the time Front Office Sports reported that, "Both ESPN and Steele thought it was appropriate for her to take some time off." Nothing was ever officially announced and Steele also tested positive for COVID during her time away, so the exact length of any possible suspension is murky. And ESPN says it never actually happened. Via the New York Post:

“Sage remains a valued contributor on some of ESPN’s highest profile content, including the recent Masters telecasts and anchoring our noon ‘SportsCenter,’ ” an ESPN spokesperson said in a statement. “As a point of fact, she was never suspended.”

A source with knowledge of ESPN told The Post that Steele will remain on-air amid the lawsuit. Her contract is not up for “a while,” a second source said.

Steele disagrees. According to WSJ she is suing ESPN for "breaching her contract and violating her free-speech rights." This seems to contradict what Steele said she believed about free speech when discussing Colin Kaepernick's situation on The Dan Patrick Show back in 2017.

"I just disagree with the whole premise of the issue that people have. Steve Bisciotti and the other 31 owners in this league, they run a business and they have a right to make the decision that is best for their business. Just like Colin Kaepernick has the right to express his opinion and do what's best for him, for his brand, for his career. There's repercussions for both."

Of course, these aren't exactly the same situation. Colin Kaepernick has been blackballed from the NFL for years, while Steele continues to anchor SportsCenter after what may or may not have been a short suspension, depending on who you ask.

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