• Loading stock data...
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Law

ESPN Offers Sage Steele $501K to Settle Lawsuit

  • The 'SportsCenter' anchor claimed in lawsuit filed in April 2022 that ESPN violated her free-speech rights.
  • Steele alleged she was suspended for comments about the network's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Sage Steele
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN has offered Sage Steele $501,000 and to cover “reasonable” attorney fees to settle the “SportsCenter” anchor’s lawsuit filed in the aftermath of her comments about the network’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Steele sued ESPN and parent company Walt Disney Co. in April 2022 over allegations her First Amendment and Connecticut’s free-speech rights were violated. 

In the Connecticut state court filing last week, lawyers for ESPN and Disney wrote that the offer should “not be construed as an admission that defendants are liable for any of the claims asserted in this action, or that plaintiff has suffered any damage as a result of any of those claims.”

While mediation remains ongoing, Steele’s attorney said in a statement to Front Office Sports and other outlets that they won’t be accepting this settlement offer.

“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,” Bryan Freedman, Steele’s attorney, said. “The offer misses the point. Disney cannot purchase their employee’s constitutional rights no matter how powerful they think they are.

“How about apologizing and treating people fairly? Let me put it this way, would Disney be willing to accept money from the state of Florida and Governor DeSantis in exchange for being silenced? Why the double standard?”

The trial is scheduled to begin in March 2024. 

In the lawsuit, Steele alleged she was retaliated against after the comments she made on former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler’s podcast in September 2021. During the podcast, Steele called Disney’s vaccine mandate “sick and scary.”

Steele also drew criticisms for questioning why former President Barack Obama identified as Black in the U.S. Census during the same appearance. 

Steele claimed she was suspended by ESPN for two days, and “was forced to issue” under threat of termination. ESPN denied that Steele was suspended.

The half-million-dollar offer comes as ESPN has looked to reduce costs, which has led the network to part ways with several recognizable names in recent weeks from Neil Everett to Rob Ninkovich to Chris Chelios

The departure of other notable talent is expected in the coming days.

Linkedin
Whatsapp
Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

exclusive

‘This Is Semi-Pro’: Inside One Arena Football League Team’s Collapse

The collapse of the Georgia Force, as told by the players who lived it.
Michael Block signs autographs on the 18th hole during day three of practice for the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.

‘I Prefer It This Way’: How Life Works for PGA Club Pros

Here’s how life works for the qualifiers at golf’s second major.
February 5, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; The grounds of the Capitol Building empty out following the conclusion of President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech on February 5, 2019.

‘A Breathtaking Lobbying Campaign’: The NCAA’s Sophisticated Effort to Save Amateurism

Inside the carefully coordinated, multimillion-dollar operation to end the athletes’ rights era.

NFL’s Christmas Shake-Up: Netflix and Amazon Will Take It Over in ’25

This is the new-age NFL, where anything goes, if the price is right.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

The Next Era of the Harlem Globetrotters

0:00

Featured Today

The WNBA Was Forged in Houston. Why Won’t It Go Back There?

Houston’s a perfect fit for expansion. The league isn’t considering it yet.
May 9, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) stands with the team during the national anthem on Thursday, May 9, 2024, during the preseason game against the Atlanta Dream at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
May 12, 2024

‘Perfect Storm’: The Rise of Local WNBA Broadcast Pacts

With national attention reaching new heights, regional coverage could dictate the future.
Mar 29, 2023; New York, New York, USA; American actors and comedians Chris Rock (left) and Ben Stiller sit court side during the third quarter between the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat at Madison Square Garden.
May 11, 2024

The Haves and Have-Nots: How the Knicks’ Celebrity Row Works

Unwritten rules, an expectation of quid pro quo, and nothing is free.
May 6, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Red Bull driver Max Verstappen (1) of the Netherlands walks through the garage area following qualifying for the Miami Grand Prix at Miami International Autodrome.
May 5, 2024

Max Verstappen Is Unstoppable. Is That Hurting F1 With New American Fans?

Formula One could be facing an inevitable plateau in the United States.

Careers

Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Live Nation
Multiple - USA Careers
Adidas
Multiple - USA Careers
FanDuel
Multiple - USA Careers

Fanatics Sues Marvin Harrison Jr., Says He Leaked ‘Misleading’ Info to ESPN

Harrison’s side says the two sides don’t have a contract, which Fanatics disputes.
May 16, 2024

Lawsuit: Blackhawks Lured Indigenous Consultant With False Promise of Changing Logo

The consultant claims the team failed to keep promises, including changing its logo.
May 17, 2024

World’s Best Golfer Arrested Attempting to Enter PGA Championship

Scottie Scheffler was arrested and released by Louisville police Friday morning.
Sponsored

Major League Rugby’s Vision for American Rugby

How Major League Rugby is leading the Rugby renaissance in the U.S.
May 14, 2024

NFL Wins Appeal in Jon Gruden Civil Suit, Case Headed to League Arbitration

The case is now headed to the league’s own arbitration system.
May 8, 2024

Former Ohtani Interpreter Pleading Guilty to Bank Fraud, False Tax Return

Ippei Mizuhara faces up to 33 years in federal prison for his crimes.
May 7, 2024

Another Court Sides With Zion Williamson’s Years-Old Firing of Unregistered Agent

There isn’t a rigorous or nationwide standard to rep a college athlete.
April 26, 2024

Iowa Athletes Sue State, Citing ‘Unconstitutional’ Tracking of Gambling

They claim investigators didn’t get warrants, misled about the purpose of questioning.