San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver had a lousy Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens. He was burned badly on a long touchdown pass, committed the game's only pass interference penalty that kept a Ravens' drive alive and was repeatedly picked on. For a lot of people, it was justice in the wake of his remarks saying that he would not want any gay teammates.
However, Culliver's comments during the intense media scrum that is Super Bowl week had an unintended benefit of bringing more attention to the issues of gays in the NFL. At a certain point, it became hard to keep track of what player said what about the issue.
I have compiled comments from 14 NFL players, some not even involved in the Super Bowl, who were asked for their views on what Culliver said. All 14, to varying degrees, were fine with having a gay teammate, though some said the sport was not ready or that others could have a problem. It's hard to say whether these views form the majority of players or whether people not comfortable kept quiet lest they be the next Culliver.
If there is anyone I missed, please post in the comments. For a related story, see our list from the fall of 28 gay-supportive NFL players.
Randy Moss (49ers receiver):
"I don't think we should tear a man's head off or a woman's head off just because of their sexual preference. I think we're all good people. I really believe we should be able to look beyond that in this day and age. It's here in our world, it's not like it just came yesterday. So for us to act like, oh my god, this is like a bad disease that just hit our country, it's not."
Brendon Ayanbadejo (Ravens linebacker and vocal supporter of gay rights):
"If people hear you say those things, regardless of whether you mean them or not, they're going to fry you for it in a public arena. Culliver apologized, and hopefully he'll learn. I guarantee that his comments will be a positive thing, because it sheds so much light on him and on guys who think like him. Because a lot of guys do think like him."
Justin Tuck (Giants defensive lineman):
"For me, am I gay? No. Do I have any problems with being friends or teammates with someone who has decided to be gay? No. Like Larry [Fitzgerald, the Cardinals receiver] said, all we care about is having teammates who are going to help us win football games and be champions. If we had a gay teammate who was going to do that, I don't have any problems with it.
"If there is a gay football player, I hope there comes a time when you can come out and say 'I'm openly gay' and I hope this league and this society will accept it. Do I think it's going to be anytime soon? No, I don't. But I don't have much to say about it because I don't think it is an issue yet. It will become an issue when somebody does come out and say 'I'm gay.' "
Frank Gore (49ers running back):
"If you are gay, you are gay. I don’t have a problem with it. If that’s what you want to do, I’m fine with it. That’s their business, and you shouldn’t be in another man’s business."
Terrell Suggs (Ravens linebacker):
From Pro Football Talk: Asked if he would have a problem with a gay teammate, Suggs answered, "Absolutely not." Suggs then added that the rest of the team would welcome a gay teammate as well.
"We wouldn’t have a problem with it," Suggs said. "We don’t care. Our biggest thing in the locker room is to just have fun and stay loose. We don’t really care too much about that. We’re a football team. I said it yesterday; everybody deserves a certain amount of privacy. Who cares? Whatever a person’s choice is, it’s their choice."
"On this team, with so many different personalities, we just accept people for who they are and we don’t really care too much about a player’s sexuality," Suggs said. "To each their own. You know who you are, and we accept you for it."
Martellus Bennett (Giants tight end, via Twitter):
"There's def at least one or 2 gay guys on every team. Who cares?! If someone can play ball let em play."
Delanie Walker (49ers fullback):
"It probably wouldn't affect me, but other guys might feel different. That's him. If that's what he's into, that's what he's into. I can't judge a person for how he feels. Things happen. He was a great player. I don't see him no differently."
Joe Staley (49ers offensive lineman):
"I have no issues. I feel like everybody should be who they are. … I think this is a different generation. It’s more accepted."
Alex Boone (49ers offensive lineman):
"I had a friend who came out and I was like all right, cool. I didn’t know he was gay and he came out and it didn’t change anything. We were still friends. It was like all right, cool. Who cares?"
Tarell Brown (49ers cornerback):
"To each his own, whatever makes you happy, do it. I just feel like, you shouldn’t hide it. At the end of the day don’t be embarrassed with what you are, or what you do. If you are that way, that’s you."
Larry Grant (49ers linebacker):
"I’ve known guys that I’ve played with in the past (who were gay). When you’re younger you hear different kinds of jokes, when you are in high school and college. At the end of the day, we are all family in this locker room, and we accept each player for whoever they are. … It’s all a brotherhood."
Tavares Gooden (49ers linebacker):
I don’t have an issue with a teammate being gay or anything like that. As long as we respect each other space and every other’s mind than we are fine."
Ricky Jean Francois (49ers defensive lineman):
"If someone did (come out), I would still respect them. It doesn’t matter, they are still my teammate, still my friend off the field too."
Donte Whitner (49ers safety):
"I don’t think it is fair to begrudge or belittle anyone."
(Photo: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (back to camera) hugs guard Alex Boone after winning the NFC Championship game. Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports).