NEW ORLEANS — San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver said Thursday he has learned from the firestorm that was started when he told comedian Artie Lange that gay players should leave the locker room.
The player sat stone-faced during a 45-minute long interview session at the 49ers team hotel, answering questions in a soft monotone. At one point, when a reporter turned the subject back to his comments to Lange, Culliver turned to another reporter who was asking about his college recruitment and asked, “You got anymore questions for me?”
During Tuesday’s media free for all at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Lange stopped Culliver for a quick interview. After an initial question, Lange turned the subject there were any gay players in the 49ers locker room.
To which Culliver responded, “We ain’t got not gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff.”
Lange then asked if Culliver though players should keep it a secret.
“Come out 10 years later after that,” Culliver said.
Wednesday, the 49ers offered a swift rebuke of the comments, saying, “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.”
Shortly after, Culliver issued his own response.
“The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel,” he said. “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.”
Thursday morning, he said he was ready and expected questions to come his way about the comments, saying he “wrote things down” about he truly felt and was trying to move on.
“Just emotional, sensitive, and apologetic,” Culliver said of his past day hours. “There’s a lot of words I can [use to] describe (it).”
Culliver said he barely has slept since.
The former South Carolina defensive back said he understands how far-reaching his comments go and also that he realized that Lange was a comedian.
When asked what he would say to those in San Francisco about his comments, he said, “I’m sorry that I offended anyone. They were very ugly comments, and that’s not what I feel in my heart. Hopefully, I can learn and grow from this experience and this situation. I love San Francisco.”