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ESPN's Sage Steele is reportedly pulled from air, apologizes for criticizing Disney's vaccine mandate
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ESPN's Sage Steele is reportedly pulled from air, apologizes for criticizing Disney's vaccine mandate

ESPN host Sage Steele has issued a public apology for criticizing Disney's vaccine mandate on a podcast after reportedly being removed from the air Tuesday.

Last week, Steele told former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on his podcast, "Uncut With Jay Cutler," that she didn't want to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and only did so because of the company's "sick" and "scary" mandate.

"I work for a company that mandates it and I had until Sept. 30 to get it done or I'm out," Steele told Cutler. "I respect everyone's decision, I really do, but to mandate it is sick and it's scary to me in many ways."

Her remarks contradicted the position of the federal government, which through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.

Steele issued a statement on Tuesday apologizing for her remarks.

"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.

An accompanying statement from ESPN reported by USA Today did not indicate whether Steele faced corporate discipline for her comments or was told to apologize.

"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 was removed from the air Tuesday because of her comments. She also tested positive for COVID-19 and will be absent from "SportsCenter" for at least one week. She will also not be hosting the espnW: Women + Sports Summit, which takes place Oct. 18-20.

Steele is also facing controversy for comments she made on the podcast about former President Barack Obama's racial identity and why he identifies as black even though he, like her, is biracial.

"Well, congratulations to the President, that's his thing," Steele said. "I think that's fascinating considering his black dad is nowhere to be found, but his white mom and grandma raised him, but OK. You do you. I'm gonna do me."

She added, "Listen, I'm pretty sure my white mom was there when I was born. And my white family loves me as much as my black family."

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