49ers cornerback says gay players not welcome; later apologizes

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Chris Culliver #29 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after breaking up a pass during their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Candlestick Park on October 9, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Chris Culliver #29 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after breaking up a pass during their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Candlestick Park on October 9, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

[Editor's note: This post has been updated to include both the 49ers response and Chris Culliver's apology for his comments about gay players in the NFL]

This week, the media presence around the NFL is larger than life.

We’ve heard a lot this week – Marshall Faulk suggesting his team was cheated out of a Super Bowl victory, Randy Moss declaring his all-time greatness at his position – and now something that’s sure to get a lot of people talking compliments of 49ers defensive back Chris Culliver.

The 24-year-old cornerback reportedly told shock jock Artie Lange gay players would not be welcomed on his team. Lange was doing his familiar line of provocative and irreverent conversation when he switched gears quickly to discuss the presence of gay players in the NFL – more specifically, the 49ers.

“I don’t do the gay guys man, I don’t do that,” Culliver repotedly told Lange when asked if there were any current gay 49er players. “We don’t got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff.”

The 49ers later released a statement Wednesday “rejecting” Culliver’s comments. The statement via CSNBayArea.com:

“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.”

Culliver’s comments were first reported by Yahoo! Sports contributor Martin Rogers, where you can also listen to the full audio excerpt.

As noted by the CSNBayArea report, Culliver released a statement a few hours after his team: 

“The derogatory comments I made yesterday 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. Further, I apologize to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience.”

The oddsmakers still have Culliver’s 49ers as a slight favorite over the Baltimore Ravens in Sunday’s big game. NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal says Culliver will take “deserved criticism” for his remarks, but adds his comments are representative of rampant “homophobia” in professional sports.

An interesting twist to Culliver’s comments is that Ravens linebacker and Culliver’s opponent Sunday Brendan Ayanbadejo has pledged to promote gay rights and marriage equality this week.

Ayanbadejo told members of the media Wednesday via the Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh:

“Equality is a relevant issue. Whether you decide to speak out about it or not, it’s going to affect everybody one way or another. Hopefully I’ll be able to win a Super Bowl and do the entire media circuit so I can talk about these things.”

Culliver, who has amassed nearly one million followers on Twitter, has yet  to respond the media storm that’s certainly to follow.

Follow theGrio’s Todd Johnson on Twitter @rantoddj