49ers' statement condemns Chris Culliver's anti-gay remarks

Chris Culliver of the San Francisco 49ers stands Chris Culliver of the San Francisco 49ers stands on the field prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Candlestick Park. (Dec. 30, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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NEW ORLEANS -- San Francisco is known as one of America's most tolerant cities, but according to one player, the 49ers' locker room does not share that tolerance.

In a radio interview with comedian Artie Lange this week, 49ers reserve cornerback Chris Culliver made several anti-gay statements in regard to the recent arrest of former 49ers lineman Kwame Harris for alleged domestic assault against his former boyfriend.

"I don't do the gay guys," Culliver said. "I don't do that."

Culliver then insisted there are no gay players on the 49ers. "We don't have any gay guys on the team," he said. "They gotta get up out of here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff."

He suggested that any player who is gay should keep it to himself. "Yeah," Culliver said, "come out 10 years later after that."

As reports of Culliver's comments were amplified by the megaphone of the Super Bowl Wednesday, the 49ers quickly released a statement condemning them:

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"The San Francisco 49ers reject the comments that were made [Tuesday], 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."

Culliver issued a statement through the team: "The derogatory comments I made were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel. 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."

Culliver, who is expected to speak Thursday at a news conference, isn't the only player at this Super Bowl with a strong position on gay men and lesbians. Ravens backup linebacker Brandon Ayanbadejo has long been speaking out in favor of marriage equality.

"Doing what's right in this day and age, you shouldn't be applauded for that," Ayanbadejo said Tuesday. "I was the first athlete to talk about [marriage equality] when a lot of athletes weren't talking about it."

Although several Ravens have taken exception to Ayanbadejo's views, not everyone in the NFL does. Some current 49ers who were teammates with Harris see no problem with gay men on a football team.

Tight end Delanie Walker played two seasons with Harris. He said this week that Harris' sexual orientation was not known to teammates then, but Walker said it would not have changed his perception.

"I don't think so, not at all," Walker said. "It probably wouldn't affect me, but other guys might feel different."

Now we know they do. Which is why the NFL has yet to have an openly gay active player. It will happen soon, Ayanbadejo said, adding that NFL teams will not shy away from a talented player because of his sexual orientation.

"I think if you're a great person and play high-caliber football, [the league] is ready for [an openly gay active player]," Ayanbadejo said. "They might disagree with same-sex marriage, but I think they'd still treat a player equally."

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