San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver says he doesn't want gay players on his team. "I don't do the gay guys, man," he told Artie Lange in an interview. "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," and "can't be in the locker room," he said. Gay people should stay in the closet while playing and "come out 10 years after that," he said, per Yahoo! News. The team has rejected his comments: "There is no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. We have and always will proudly support the LGBT community."
Culliver has since apologized, saying that "the derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel." He added: "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 .... I apologize to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience." The media is reacting:
- The apology was "half-hearted" and "bizarre," writes Gary Myers in the New York Daily News, noting that the 49ers were the first team to join the "It Gets Better" program for young LGBT people. An advocate for gay people in sports calls Culliver's initial comments "disrespectful, discriminatory, and dangerous, particularly for the young people who look up to him."
- "There goes a year's worth of progress for gay rights in the NFL," notes Connor Simpson at the Atlantic Wire, pointing to a year in which Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo and Vikings kicker Chris Kluwe have taken a stand for gay rights. On top of that, former 49er Kwame Harris was outed this week after a fight with his ex-boyfriend. "So, sorry, Chris: gay players have been in your locker room before," Simpson writes.
- It's now clear which team to root for in the Super Bowl if you support gay rights, notes the Daily Intelligencer.