As if the anti-gay remarks by San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver weren’t enough to send the team’s management into a tizzy days before the Super Bowl, two of its other players are adding to the controversy by denying that they were in a video produced to combat bullying experienced by LGBT teens.
But here’s the thing—despite what linebacker Ahmad Brooks and defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga claim, the two were in fact among the players featured in the 49ers “It Gets Better” video, which was released last summer.
When asked about the video by USA Today, Brooks said, “This is America and if someone wants to be gay, they can be gay. But I didn’t make any video.” Later, after he was shown the video he said, “Oh, that. It was an anti-bullying video, not a gay [rights] video.”
Sopoaga, who was also approached by USA Today, tried to claim that he “never went” and that “someone is using my name,” before he was also shown the video. When told it was to help stop teens from getting bullied because of their sexual orientation, he responded, “Yeah, OK.”
After Culliver’s rant that he doesn’t “do the gay guys, man” and that he wouldn’t tolerate an openly gay teammate, the 49ers released a statement Wednesday knocking his remarks.
“The San Francisco 49ers reject the comments that were made yesterday, and have addressed the matter with Chris,” the team said in the statement. “There is no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. We have and always will proudly support the LGBT community.”
Culliver later apologized for his remarks, saying in a statement Wednesday that “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.”
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, an outspoken supporter of gay rights and same-sex marriage, said he plans to reach out to Culliver after the Super Bowl in the hopes of starting a positive dialogue.
“A lot of guys don’t know anything about it,” he said. “They may have friends in the LGBT community but they don’t know it. They have no knowledge or understanding of the situation, so I try to shed some light on it when I can.”
The Huffington Post:
Interestingly, Culliver’s comments initially came on the heels of news that former 49ers offensive tackle Kwame Harris was in court on assault charges from a former boyfriend. Though Harris last played for the 49ers in 2007, many former teammates quickly came to his defense in the media.
A petition has since been launched on change.org asking the NFL to send Culliver to spend a day with the New York Gay Football League.