Chris Culliver, a second-year cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers, issued an apology Wednesday night for anti-gay comments he made at the Super Bowl media day on Tuesday.
The 24-year-old Culliver was conducting an interview with comedian and radio personality Artie Lange, who asked whether there were any homosexual men on the 49ers team. Culliver told Lange that he would not accept or welcome a gay teammate, especially in the locker room.
“The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel,” Culliver said in a statement released by the team. “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.”
The 49ers organization released a statement earlier Wednesday addressing Culliver’s comments, but did not disclose whether the team planned to take action against him.
Theodore Palmer, who is Culliver’s personal public relations representative, told The Associated Press in a phone interview that his client is very sorry and that he did not intend to hurt anyone.
“He is one who celebrates the differences of others,” Palmer said. “All of this was just a big mistake. It was interpreted wrong.”
The 49ers immediately issued an apology early Wednesday morning after hearing Culliver’s comments played on Lange’s radio show.
“The San Francisco 49ers reject the comments that were made yesterday, and have addressed the matter with Chris,” the team’s statement said. “There is no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. We have and always will proudly support the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.”
Culliver’s remark came one day after former 49ers offensive lineman Kwame Harris was charged with felony domestic violence and assault charges after beating his former boyfriend in August.
Alin Cintean, who is Harris’ defense lawyer, said his client does identify himself as being gay, but had not made his sexuality publicly known.
But Culliver said a homosexual male would not be accepted in the 49ers locker room.
“We ain’t got no gay people on the team,” Culliver told Lange. “They gotta get up out here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. … Nah, can’t be … in the locker room, man.”
Culliver went on to add that a gay player should keep their sexual orientation a secret and reveal their sexual preference after retiring.
Culliver, who had a big interception against the Atlanta Falcons in NFC Championship game, is hopeful that fans will accept his apology. He will find that out when he returns to San Francisco. The Bay Area is home to a large gay community.
But if the 49ers win the Super Bowl Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, fans may easily forget his comments.