Chris Culliver made derogatory comments in regards to homosexuality in football this week. He released the following statement in response to this:
“The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel. It has taken me seeing them in print to realize that they are hurtful and ugly. Those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart. Further, I apologize to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience.”
He initially told Artie Lange in an interview that he wouldn’t welcome gay teammates and does not want to see them in the locker room. The question about homosexuality sparked because earlier this week, former 49ers offensive lineman Kwame Harris appeared in court regarding felony domestic charges in the alleged beating of an ex-boyfriend. Harris’ orientation was never revealed during his career with the 49ers or Raiders.
“I don’t do that,” said Culliver. “No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. [It] can’t be with that sweet stuff. [It] can’t be in the locker room man.”
He said that homosexual athletes should keep their orientation private until 10 years after retiring from the game.
Culliver was the nickel defensive back for the 49ers and appeared in all 16 games, recording 48 tackles and two interceptions. The 49ers would play nickel and dime defense more frequently with opposing teams being pass happy.
Previously, Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has showed open support for same-sex marriage. However, this week he chose to not to talk about the topic of homosexuality in sports.
“I [already] talked about that so I don’t want to keep touching on that subject, but obviously we’re here at the Super Bowl. It’s the pinnacle of sports here in the United States so I just really want to focus,” said Ayanbadejo. “A lot of media stuff has come up with Ayanbadejo this and Ayanbadejo that but I think the most important thing is that I’m here with my team. My focus is on this football game and this is the most important game I’ve ever played in my life.”
Donte Whitner was asked about Ayanbadejo’s position on tolerance of gay teammates. He showed support for the Ravens’ LB because he took a stand in whatt he believes.
“I think he’s an extremely strong guy to be able to do it,” Whitner said. “You know there’s going to be a lot of backlash. You know there’s going to be a lot of people questioning why he’s doing it. But I think it’s great. I think it’s great for people to be who they want to be.”
Earlier this season, the 49ers released a public service announcement that denounced anti-gay bullying.
In response to Culliver’s comments, the 49ers released the following statement:
“The San Francisco 49ers reject the comments that were made yesterday, and have addressed the matter with Chris. There is no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. We have and always will proudly support the LGBT community.”
Culliver is not the only 49er to be openly intolerant of gay people. In 2002, RB Garrison Hearst made some publicly negative comments after former DT Esera Tuaolo came out of the closet. Hearst apologized after his insulting remarks.
Former 49er Terrell Owens had some indirect comments towards Jeff Garcia in 2004, implying that he was gay. Owens later backed off his comments saying they were taken out of context.