49ers' Chris Culliver Apologizes After Homophobic Comments
Chris Culliver of the San Francisco 49ers has publicly apologized for the homophobic comments he made earlier in the week during a radio interview.
Culliver, 24, in a radio interview taped on Tuesday, said that gay players would not be welcomed in the 49ers locker room. "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," he told radio host Artie Lange.
On Thursday, following the leak of the cornerback’s statements, the media swarmed Culliver with questions regarding the interview. By that point, he had spoken with his head coach Jim Harbaugh, other members of the coaching staff and the team's general manager, Trent Baalk, and had apparently gained some perspective on the matter.
"I was really not thinking. Or, something I thought, but not something that I feel in my heart," Culliver said. "I'm sorry that I offended anyone. They were very ugly comments, and that's not what I feel in my heart. Hopefully, I can learn and grow from this experience and this situation. I love San Francisco."
Culliver wants to quickly put his thoughtless comments behind him and the 49ers franchise, not seeking out the commentary on Twitter or feeling out the reactions from his teammates. "I’m not trying to bring any distraction to the team. We're trying to win a Super Bowl," he said.
Culliver's comments seem to confirm Baltimore Raven's player Brendan Ayanbadejo's belief that the NFL has quite a way to go in embracing what would be its first openly gay player. While several of the league’s players have come out post-career, none have come out while still sharing a locker room with their teammates. Ayanbadejo openly supports gay marriage, and officially backed Maryland's gay rights amendment.
“I'd say 50 percent of the people [in the NFL] think like Culliver. I'd say 25 percent of the people think like me. And 25 percent of the people are religious. They don't necessarily agree with all the things I agree with, but they're accepting," Ayanbadejo said. "So it's a fight. It's an uphill battle."
Culliver and Ayanbadejo, on opposite ends of the spectrum of acceptance, will be facing off on Sunday in Super Bowl XLVII.