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San Francisco 49ers’ Chris Culliver apologizes for anti-gay remarks

Thursday, January 31, 2013

NEW ORLEANS — San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver apologized Thursday for anti-gay comments he made to a comedian during Super Bowl media day, saying “that’s not what I feel in my heart.”

“I’m sorry if I offended anyone. They were very ugly comments,” Culliver, 24, said during an hour-long media session. “Hopefully I learn and grow from this experience and this situation.”

He said he would welcome a gay teammate to the 49ers, a reversal of his remarks to Artie Lange two days earlier during an interview at the Superdome.

“I treat everyone equal,” Culliver said. “That’s not how I feel.”

Watch:

Culliver said that he realized his comments were especially offensive to many people in San Francisco and the Bay Area, which is home to a large gay community.

“I love San Francisco,” Culliver said.

During the interview with Lange on Tuesday, Culliver responded to questions by saying he wouldn’t welcome a gay player in the locker room. He also said the 49ers didn’t have any gay players, and if they did those players should leave.

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh met privately with Culliver to discuss the remarks.

“I reject what he said,” Harbaugh said. “That’s not something that reflects the way the organization feels, the way the rest of the players feel.”

The coach would not discuss if Culliver would face discipline from the team, such as a fine or loss of playing time.

“He pledged to grow from it,” Harbaugh said.

The interview began with Lange asking Culliver about his sexual plans with women during Super Bowl week. Lange followed up with a question about whether Culliver would consider pursuing a gay man.

“I don’t do the gay guys, man. I don’t do that,” Culliver said during the one-minute taped interview. “Ain’t got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff.”

Lange asked Culliver to reiterate his thoughts, to which the player said, “It’s true.” He added he wouldn’t welcome a gay teammate — no matter how talented.

“Nah. Can’t be … in the locker room, nah,” he said. “You’ve gotta come out 10 years later after that.”

The 49ers participate in the NFL’s “It Gets Better” anti-bullying campaign. Three organizations working for LGBT inclusion in sports — Athlete Ally, You Can Play, and GLAAD — reacted to Culliver’s remarks and later acknowledged his apology.

“Chris Culliver’s comments were disrespectful, discriminatory and dangerous, particularly for the young people who look up to him,” said Athlete Ally Executive Director Hudson Taylor. “His words underscore the importance of the athlete ally movement and the key role that professional athletes play in shaping an athletic climate that affirms and includes gay and lesbian players.”

Calling Lange’s questions “real disrespectful,” Culliver said he realized he was speaking to a comedian and not a journalist.

“That was pretty much in a joking manner,” the player said. “It’s nothing about how I feel.”

Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who made headlines this season with his vocal support of a gay-marriage initiative in Maryland, said Culliver’s comments to Lange were reflective of how many players in the NFL feel, even if they don’t express it publicly. He hopes the 49ers cornerback will learn from this experience and become a positive role model in the quest for equality.

“You can’t fight hate with hate,” Ayanbadejo said. “You’ve got to fight hate with love.”

Baltimore safety Bernard Pollard said Culliver should be allowed to express his views, even if some people found them offensive.

“The guy’s entitled to his own opinion,” said Pollard, who has acknowledged that he disagrees with Ayanbadejo’s stand on gay marriage. “I’m not going to sit here and knock him. I’m not going to sit here and judge him. It’s freedom of speech. If you don’t like it, don’t listen to it.”

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55 more reader comments:

  1. It really Bothers me black guys whose rights I worked for with my family for decades don’t give a damn about mine.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:48am
  2. His apology was bull. He got his pee pee slapped by his coach and hopefully his mother! One does not just have a revelation over night about how much of a bigot they are. That was forced and he still feels the same.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:50am
  3. I’m still pretty angry at this remarks, and for this reason, will be rooting for the Ravens on Sunday. Screw you dude. I was a 49ers afn until you fcked it up!

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:51am
  4. That “apology” is a hollow one. Its gonna take a lot more than that to convince me.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:53am
  5. Too late!

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:53am
  6. I can identify bullshit when I see it!

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:54am
  7. Big shock.. Still bench him!!

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:55am
  8. His apology was a bit too grammatically correct to have been written by him. I call BS.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:55am
  9. His apology is bs and hollow anf not very sincere. The 49ers should fine him or better yet fire is ass

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:55am
  10. Exactly Emily!! He didn’t learn proper English that fast!

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:56am
  11. Apology NOT ACCEPTED! Ignornace isn’t changed overnight!

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:56am
  12. Not Accepted.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:57am
  13. Too late! Fine him for discrimination 49ers i hope u loose the superbowl because of this man.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:58am
  14. PR is going to force him to apologize. I’m not sure why they still make celebrities who fuck up apologize because it is always some hollow statement written by some other person.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:58am
  15. That’s a bullshit apology if I’ve ever seen one. He exposed himself as the bigoted homophobe that he truly is, and I hope his stupid football team loses.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:00pm
  16. guys its okay! hes a football player, he can say whatever he wants and make a weak ass forced apology and its okay. Jeeze, stop being so hard on him.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:01pm
  17. He was told to apologize….He isn’t sorry…..

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:03pm
  18. he plays for SF and he’s got problems with gays…………he’s a total fag

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:04pm
  19. The apology did not come from Culliver. It came from 49ers management. It was too well spoken. Somehow, I have my extreme doubts, seeing how Culliver does not have the ability to construct an insult intelligently, he can spell the word “gay” much less know the meaning used in this context. Not sure if his team mates should be embarrassed more by his homophobia, or the fact he is so uneducated he cannot construct a basic sentence. Should be fine $100,000 which should be donated to HRC in his name, and benched from the game.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:05pm
  20. Not accepted!

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:05pm
  21. I believe in second chances and thirds and fourths. He is a young man and has a lot of room to grow. This may be a life changing event for him. I would love for him to put his money where his mouth is and do something to support the GAY community. I think there are probably many opportunities for the LGBTQ community in SF to reach out to him.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:06pm
  22. I’m so tired of athletes “apologizing” for their anti-gay remarks. They only do it so they can hang on to their job but they’re not thinking about that when they open their big fat mouth. And does no one else see the tragic irony of this coming from a player for the gayest city in the country? That’s about as dumb as a racist white guy saying something stupid about black people while he’s on Atlanta’s team.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:07pm
  23. That apology was far from sincere. He only did it after being chewed out by the leadership. He should be benched. Apology not accepted. He needs some sort of punishment.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:09pm
  24. This is a great conversation and it needs to continue. I would love to see the local SF community get involved in this. This is such a great opportunity on the largest stage (super bowl) in the world. I just hope by Sunday people do not forget this. I live in a city where homophobia was all right at one time. On a sidewalk where I live there was a mark that said “Fag was bashed here.” That “fag” eventually died. Nobody took it upon their own will to remove this from the sidewalk. I was to young to know better at the time. This is so unacceptable and it has been going on way to long.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:13pm
  25. lol this is what happens every time. a celebrity, athlete, politician, or whatever says something stupid, and the next day there’s a so-called apology. I’m sick of it.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:17pm
  26. Too late!

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:20pm
  27. The original statement made him look insecure and closeted. When will people like this learn to keep their mouths shut.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:20pm
  28. Wow! If he don’t like gays or lesbians that is his choice! There are plenty of people who don’t like us and have said some dumb shit so why is it that we hate them as much as they hate or fear us?? What makes us any better with some of the commets here?? We should feel sorry for his stupidity not bash him for it? He is not the only NFL player who is against Gays in the league he is just the dummy that opened his mouth and said so. Weather he apologized or not they are not going to bench him, he is not going to loose any money or nothing else so why are we devoting so much time to this? My question is why in the hell did the stupid reporter even bring us (Gays/Lesbians) up in the interview?? It was supposed to be about the Superbowl not Gays/Lesbians. And yes I’m a 49er Faithful and would never trade on my team becasue of some stupid comment by one of the players.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:20pm
  29. lame

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:22pm
  30. I call bullshit, he only did it so he could still play. Fuck him, I say

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:26pm
  31. I think it’s time people get their due punishments for remarks like that. He should have his pay reduced, been benched and maybe fired.

    The point is to show there are consequences for actions that do not reflect the team’s stance on LGBTQ issues.

    He deserves more than a slap on the wrist.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:29pm
  32. No, you fuck him, Christopher. Just kidding, totally agree, man.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:29pm
  33. Renee D. Edwards: Would you have felt the same way should his comments been about a particular race instead of an orientation? Bigotry is Bigotry, it’s not a choice, it’s a learned hatred and it should not be tolerated. EVER.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:30pm
  34. Hahaha I knew someone would respond like that. Well played, Tim

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:30pm
  35. After re-reading the article, it seems not enough attention is being paid to his statements that he was aware he was talking to a comedian and was joking around. If that’s the context surrounding his comments to Lange, then it’s the media that is guilty of treating a jokingly-made not-serious comment as if it were a sincere statement of his opinion. Of more concern to me is the comment by the Baltimore player, Benard Pollard, in which he clearly does not understand the concept of free speech … he appears to think it’s protection from public backlash for bigoted remarks by people like himself.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:42pm
  36. What an asshole!

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:44pm
  37. He didn’t apologize the company did clearly that’s how he felt he’s what to say in front of a camera why look like he dabbles hisself but that’s no apology that’s a good people behind that knows how to save face

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:55pm
  38. How did he get through school and be a football player when clearly, he cannot speak english, or whatever that was…

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 1:01pm
  39. He is a lying, homophobic creature. Enough said.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 1:10pm
  40. This is a hollow bullshit apology! He was probably forced to do it. He should be fined and also work with glbtq youth.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 1:11pm
  41. Too late you MISERABLE BITCH!

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 1:15pm
  42. Oh please, as if anyone believes this apology is sincere.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 1:20pm
  43. Basically he’s saying that it’s OUR fault for misinterpreting his remarks! His apology is as pathetic as his bigotry! GO RAVENS!!

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 1:29pm
  44. I hope they loose!!!

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 1:31pm
  45. GO RAVENS!!

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 1:31pm
  46. Who gives a fuck about this dbag?

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 1:32pm
  47. Go Ravens!

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 1:33pm
  48. Culliver’s Heart felt apology. Shall he be forgiven? Not he meant what he said! Public Relations for 49er’s makes him lie about his true feelings.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 1:39pm
  49. Chris Culliver should be fired from the San Francisco 49ers immediately. His comments were filled with hate and ignorance. This type of behavior is unlawful in the state of California in your workplace. He placed a bruise on the game and made it about himself.

    If you ever said anything about race he and California would be all over your ass, screaming and yelling.

    Jim Harbaugh should be ashamed for standing behind Mr. Culliver and allowing him to play in Sunday’s game. Chris Culliver looked like the ventriloquist and Jim Harbaugh the dummy.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 1:47pm
  50. I will always be a 49ers fan because what Chris said was not how the organization feels or how they treat their fans. I will be shocked if he is not traded in the off season. Coach Harbaugh knows better than to rock the boat right before the Super Bowl but I predict Culliver will play little and be traded soon. GO NINERS!!! THe rest of the team ROCKS

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 2:16pm
  51. Of course he’s apologizing, because he wants to keep his job. Words. he’s an ignorant bigot and should lose his job.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 2:29pm
  52. Kiss my rainbow @SS! Go Ravens!

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 2:31pm
  53. He’s sorry he was caught. No news story here.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 2:43pm
  54. He apologized and said it wasn’t in his heart. I say he said it and it WAS in his heart. Shouldn’t have said it in the first place.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 4:26pm
  55. your not forgivin you homophobic piece os shit

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 4:32pm