Chris Culliver SF 49ersChris Culliver made national (international?) headlines today with his anti-gay comments on a podcast with Artie Lange. Here are the comments, as well as a link to the audio:

“We ain’t got no gay people on the team,” Culliver told Lange. “They gotta get up out here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. … Nah, can’t be … in the locker room man.”

When asked by Lange if a gay player should keep his sexual orientation a secret, Culliver stated that gay players should reveal their sexuality after retiring.

“Gotta come out 10 years after that,” Culliver said.

Culliver picked a particularly bad time to make these intolerant comments. Not that any time is a good time, but in the short term the 49ers are dealing with an increased media presence the likes of which most of the players have never seen. In the long term, the 49ers are one of many professional sports franchises to join the “It Gets Better” campaign.

In that video you’ll see Ricky Jean Francois, Isaac Sopoaga, Ahmad Brooks and Donte Whitner sending the opposite message Culliver did today. The reason why this campaign exists is because people like the 49ers cornerback feel the need to let everyone know that, unless you’re a heterosexual person, you are unwelcome in places like locker rooms.

The 49ers released this statement about an hour after the comments went viral:

“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.”

If the 49ers thought Randy Moss caused a stir yesterday when he said he felt he was the “best receiver to ever play this game,” even better than the legendary Jerry Rice, they’re in for a real treat tomorrow. Culliver also released a statement.

“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 will probably issue a contrite apology tomorrow morning at the 49ers team hotel, and he will likely be surrounded by nearly every media member in New Orleans.

That’s in start contrast to the scene today, as Tim Kawakami wrote:

Chris Culliver likes telling people “Cully in the house,” which is his way of announcing his presence and alerting us to start paying attention.

That’s what the 49ers’ nickel cornerback blurted to me Wednesday morning when he was a bit perturbed that I was interviewing starter Tarell Brown, and not Culliver.

“Cully in the house, too,” Culliver said from across the table.

I too interviewed Tarell Brown this morning at the table the two corners shared, and experienced the some of the same stuff from Culliver. No “Cully in the house” mentions (by the way, @cullyinthehouse has almost 1,000,000 followers), but he interrupted a question about Torry Smith with some questions for me.

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It’s a short audio clip, but in case you’d rather read the transcript…

Culliver: Could you guard one of their receivers?

Me: Absolutely! (laughing)

Culliver: Who would you guard?

Me: Are we playing NBA 2K13?

Culliver: No, we’re playing NFL football, in the Super Bowl.

Me: They’d be so far past me. It would be the snap, and then…

Culliver: I know, but it’s just a question. Who would you guard?

Me: Uh, I’d probably say (Anquan) Boldin because he’s the only one who isn’t WAY faster than me. (Note: Boldin is WAY faster than I am, and if I attempted to cover him he’d probably rip me in half and eat my spleen.)

Culliver: Okay, what about Torrey Smith?

Me: WAY faster than me.

Culliver: So you wouldn’t want to guard him?

Me: No chance.

Culliver: Okay.

I was surprised that Culliver turned the tables the way he did. While I had fun with it, it didn’t seem like it was all in fun from Culliver’s perspective. Afterward, as I walked away from their table I wondered if Culliver was annoyed that Brown was worth interviewing but he wasn’t. After today he probably wishes he’d never have to do another interview again.

***

According to ESPN’s story on Culliver, this incident might mean something bad for little guys like me.

Several NFL teams recently have become concerned about the NFL’s credentialing process for the Super Bowl media interview sessions mandatory for all players and coaches on the competing teams.

There is a sense the league should create a more responsible process that scrutinizes media applications and to avoid exposing players to media representatives who might never be approved for credentials to NFL games.

While I have been credentialed for several NFL games this past season, I hope the NFL doesn’t respond to this interview with Artie Lange (and questions like the one from an Access Hollywood reporter, who asked Randy Moss if he had ever been “catfished”) by limiting credentials in the future to mainstream media outlets (newspapers and major TV networks) only. While I agree that a lot of the stuff going on this week (Media Day especially) is on the frivolous side, there is definitely room for people other than the established guys, as long as they respect the process and the teams they cover.

/gets off soapbox, heads to Bourbon Street