San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver did what Brendon Ayanbadejo had promised to do: Make gay issues a focal point of this Super Bowl. In one of the worst anti-gay rants ever by an athlete, Culver told Internet radio host Artie Lange. According to Yahoo! Sports:
"I don't do the gay guys man," said Culliver, whose Niners play the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. "I don't do that. No, we don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can't be…in the locker room man. Nah."
This flies in contradiction to what various 49ers have said publicly over the last two weeks. Coach Jim Harbaugh said he would be fine with an openly gay player on his team. Tight end Delanie Walker said his feelings about Kwame Harris haven't changed since his former teammate was outed. Other current Niners reflected Walker's sentiment. The 49ers are also the only NFL team to produce an It Gets Better video.
The 49ers have released a statement condemning Culliver's comments:
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.
The "we have taken care of it internally" line doesn't fly. Last month, an ESPN affiliate in Washington DC claimed they had "taken care of things" internally but did not until they were forced to do so by pressure from various groups including ESPN in Bristol. Unless they explain exactly how they have "taken care of it," we must assume it was a wag of the finger and nothing more.
Former NFL player Wade Davis, who came out publicly on Outsports last year, tweeted about the impact of Culliver's comments:
Helen Carroll, head of NCLR's sports project and based in San Francisco, was incensed by Culliver's comment:
With hundreds of thousands of fans nationwide, including LGBT young people, it is unconscionable that 49er Chris Culliver spewed his ignorant, uninformed, homophobic diatribe when asked about gays in the NFL. What he should care about was expressed by his coach, Jim Harbaugh, who said he would welcome a gay player on his team as long as he could play football. Grow up Chris.
PHOTO: Oct 02, 2011; Philadelphia, PA, USA; San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver (29) prior to playing the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The 49ers defeated the Eagles
Phillies 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports