San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver faced members of the media this morning following outrage over remarks he made in an Artie Lange radio interview that a gay teammate would not be welcome on the 49ers or in the NFL:
"I don't do the gay guys man. 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."
Those comments were then followed up with this half-hearted apology:
"The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel," he said in the statement. "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."
Culliver's personal public relations representative, Theodore Palmer, added:
"Chris is very apologetic for any harm caused to anyone," Palmer told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "His intent was not that at all. He is one who celebrates the differences of others. All of this was just a big mistake. It was interpreted wrong."
I'm not sure how you interpret his original comments anyway other than homophobic.
Asked how he is feeling today, a shell-shocked looking Culliver replied: "Just emotional, that's it... Apologetic."
Culliver was then asked what he was thinking when saying those things: "I was really just ... not thinking. It was something that I thought, but definitely not something I feel in my heart."
Culliver said he had spoken with Coach Jim Harbaugh, who earlier said he "rejected" the player's remarks: "We talked privately... about the whole situation...just to learn and grow from it.... like I said that's not what I feel in my heart, and he understands that."
Culliver was then asked if he would welcome a gay player, and gave this response: "If it is ... it is...everybody's treated equally in the locker room."
He said that he had not addressed his remarks with the team: "I'm not trying to bring anything trashy to the team."
Being married to a longtime, experienced PR rep, I have an idea what the past day or so has been like for Culliver. And I also have an inkling of the kind of behind the scenes discussions that he's been a part of. It's pretty clear that his "apology" was written for him by the PR teams. AND the phrase that's been drilled into him is the "not what I feel in my heart."
People says stupid things. I know that. But I think Culliver most probably said what he truly felt in the heat of heading to the Super Bowl, feeling kind of invincible. And this kind of talk doesn't get a second thought in the locker room.
Unfortunately for Culliver, he wasn't in the locker room when he made his comment.