San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver says he is sorry for saying he wouldn't welcome a gay teammate.
Culliver, faced with an avalanche of criticism as the team prepares for the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, says that's "not what's in my heart" and that he was "just kidding around."
Culliver made anti-gay remarks during an interview with radio personality Artie Lange earlier this week and then issued an apology to the city of San Francisco, home to many LGBT residents. He had told Lange, when asked about having a gay teammate, "We ain't got no gay people on the team. 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."
The team, this week, issued a statement saying, "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 (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community."
The team has been at the forefront in promoting LGBT equality and acceptance and was the first NFL team to make an "It Gets Better" video.
The Anti-Defamation League, on Feb. 1, issued a statement from its regional director in the San Francisco area, Seth Brysk. He said, "The Anti-Defamation League strongly objects to Chris Culliver's intolerant statements. There should be no room for expressions of anti-gay bias, or any other form of bigotry, in the National Football League. We welcome both the San Francisco49ers' swift rejection of his remarks as not reflecting the team's values and Culliver's subsequent apology. If Culliver wants to learn from this experience he will need to follow up his words with deeds, augmented by supporting action on the part of the NFL and its teams."
Culliver, in his comments to Lange, had been responding to reports of the arrest of a former NFL player for allegedly assaulting his ex-boyfriend and also the advocacy work of Super Bowl opponent Brendon Ayanbadejo, the outspoken marriage equality advocate with the Baltimore Ravens.
Another outspoken marriage equality advocate in the NFL, Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, responded to Culliver's remarks saying, "While he’s certainly entitled to speak his mind, Culliver is a role model whether he likes it or not. There are kids all over the United States who aspire to be right where he is and he has an obligation to consider the effect of his words. Kids are listening.”