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Saturday, October 09, 2021 1:00 am

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ESPN Steeles itself for new controversy

EDITORIAL BOARD | The Journal Gazette

ESPN's Sage Steele had some things to say on a recent podcast with former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler. Nearly all of them were controversial.

Steele, a 1995 Indiana University graduate, broached a number of topics when speaking Sept. 29 with the former Chicago Bears signal caller. Among them: her employer's COVID-19 vaccination mandate and whether former President Barack Obama should identify as Black.

Cutler, who was born in Santa Claus, Indiana, and didn't have a reputation for throwing accuracy during a 12-year career, began the show by introducing Steele as being “opinionated on a few different topics that are probably hot right now.” He got that right.

Steele on getting the coronavirus shot: “I respect everyone's decision, I really do, but to mandate it is sick and it's scary to me in many ways.”

She subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, the New York Post reported.

Earlier, after relaying a story about how she said she was attacked after choosing to identify as biracial, she discussed Obama.

“(That's) fascinating, considering his Black dad is nowhere to be found, but his white mom and grandma raised him,” the veteran broadcaster said.

Steele also offered thoughts on how female sports reporters dress.

“So when you dress like that, I'm not saying you deserve the gross comments, but you know what you're doing when you're putting that outfit on, too,” she said.

Unsurprisingly, the comments drew a response from ESPN officials, who said in a statement that the sports outlet embraces differing viewpoints, as long as they're given “in line with our internal policies.”

ESPN later removed Steele – who had also drawn criticism for earlier comments blasting NFL players who kneel during the national anthem and complaining about crowds protesting former President Donald Trump's travel ban – from programming, Front Office Sports reported.

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