Skip to main content

Controversial Sage Steele Interview Is ESPN’s Latest Headache: TRAINA THOUGHTS

1. If you listen to the SI Media Podcast regularly, one of the themes discussed with some guests over the past several weeks is that ESPN can’t seem to go a few days without some drama.

Sometimes it’s ESPN’s doing, sometimes it’s not.

The latest brouhaha over at the WorldWide Leader has to do with an interview that SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele did with former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler for his podcast.

The problem isn’t that Steele made one comment that ruffled some feathers. She made several comments:

She called ESPN’s vaccine mandate “sick.”

She said she thinks President Barack Obama identifying as biracial on a census is “fascinating, considering his Black dad is nowhere to be found, but his white mom and grandma raised him.”

And she has these comments about the way women dress in the workplace: “When you dress like that, I’m not saying you deserve the gross comments, but you know what you’re doing when you put that outfit on too. We know what we’re doing when we put certain things on.”

Naturally, the comments drew blowback:

New York Times reporter Kevin Draper said yesterday that Steele was supposed to be part of an upcoming ESPN summit on women and sports, but that she no longer appears on promo material.

Early Tuesday, Steele released a cookie-cutter apology, while ESPN put out its own statement on this matter.

Personally, and this is just my opinion, I thought Steele was trying to get booted from ESPN and was angling for a buyout with this interview.

You can argue about what she actually said, but you can’t argue that Steele thought these comments would sit well with her bosses. You have to know that publicly calling your company’s vaccine mandate policy “sick” is going to get you in trouble, even if you don’t like it.

Despite the statements from both parties today, it’s hard not to believe this isn’t the beginning of the end of Steele’s tenure at ESPN.

2. Week 4 was a big week for NFL ratings, with every window showing an increase from last year.

The 2021 NFL ratings are even up from the 2019 season, which is what the true comparison should be since the pandemic wreaked havoc on everything in 2020.

3. It's Tuesday, so that means it's time for the best segment on sports television: Bad Beats.

4. Raiders coach Jon Gruden had some thoughts on SoFi Stadium, which cost $5 billion to build, having a lightning delay last night even though it has a roof.

“I’m not an engineer, I have no idea. I have never heard that. I thought it was a joke. But it affected both teams,” Gruden said about the nearly 40-minute delay to start the game.

Gruden also voiced displeasure with the design of the visitors' locker room.

“The locker room here is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen. I mean, you can’t see anybody. It’s like a maze. So whoever contorted this visiting locker room, I’d like to meet this guy, see what his idea was,” Gruden said.

5. The Chargers employee was more than pumped up for last night's game.

6. This week's SI Media Podcast features a fantastic conversation with Stephen A. Smith. Topics covered include: why he thought First Take needed change; getting cursed out by Kobe; the art of debating, regretful comments; how sports media has changed; his desire to host a late-night talk show; and much more.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on AppleSpotify and Stitcher.

You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: On this date, Oct. 5, in 1998, Monday Night Raw aired one of their most memorable segments ever.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.