Ryan Clark Refused To Work With Sage Steele, Lawsuit Alleges

ESPN NFL analyst Ryan Clark refused to appear on-air for a scheduled segment last year with his co-worker Sage Steele because she had exercised her right to free speech and spoke out against the company's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, Steele alleges in a lawsuit filed against ESPN and parent company Disney.

According to the suit, Clark told ESPN executives on November 12, 2021, that he would not appear on an episode of the 12 pm SportsCenter unless the network replaced Steele, the anchor of the show, with another host. And when ESPN declined, Clark did not show up for the appearance.

"e suffered no penalty from ESPN as a result," the lawsuit, which OutKick obtained, says.

At least ESPN is consistent. Clark is just the latest example of the double standards at ESPN, which permits left-leaning on-air "talents" to engage in execrable behavior without repercussions, while it retaliates against Steele because she does not share those progressive views. 


The suit points out that fellow SportsCenter anchor Nicole Briscoe also turned mean girl against Steele. She once replied "Amen" to a tweet that expressed hope that ESPN would no longer permit Steele to cover women's sporting events.

Actually, that's not true. Briscoe didn't just say "Amen." In fact, she nearly dared the network to discipline her for publicly criticizing a colleague, saying, "Amen. (Even if it gets me in trouble.) Amen."

Steele made note of Briscoe's comment to ESPN executive Norby Williamson. But like in the case of Clark, ESPN did nothing.

What has Steele done to offend her colleagues so much? Are they so fragile that a few questions about vaccine mandates and Barack Obama's Census answers sent them into a rage?

Maybe. However, most aren't really upset by what Steele has said. They are trying to show which side they are on, and they are using Steele as a foil.

Though always there, the divide between Steele and the far-Left wing of ESPN accelerated in 2020 with the pandemic and the death of George Floyd. Despite significant pressure, Steele did not succumb to groupthink, and her co-workers want to ruin her for her courage and conviction. 

Elle Duncan and Michael Eaves notably froze Steele out of a social justice special in 2020 and privately objected to her "blackness" as a biracial woman. 

Obviously, most ESPN personalities want to side with the spoiled woke like Duncan, not Steele, who has become a network pariah. That's what this is about, hanging with the cool kids.

By refusing to appear alongside Steele, Clark was signaling to his bosses and to the Duncan-types that he's on the right side of the battle. Sage Steele bad, Ryan Clark good.

By the way, Ryan Clark is one of the least talented broadcasters at ESPN. Working next to Sage Steele, an elite interviewer would help offset his limitations. Unfortunately, he's too impressed with his own virtue to notice. 

Update: When reached by OutKick via text message asking for a comment on Steele's claim, Ryan Clark said he had "nothing to say.”

Written by
Bobby Burack is a writer for OutKick where he reports and analyzes the latest topics in media, culture, sports, and politics.. Burack has become a prominent voice in media and has been featured on several shows across OutKick and industry related podcasts and radio stations.