NEW ORLEANS — A day after anti-homosexual comments made by 49ers CB Chris Culliver came out, he spoke contritely about what he had said.
"I'm sorry if I offended anyone,” Culliver said Thursday to a horde of media members surrounding him right from the start of the players’ final session with the media this week before Super Bowl XLVII. “They were very ugly comments. Hopefully, I learn and grow from this experience and this situation."
Head coach Jim Harbaugh echoed a team-issued statement from the day before.
"I reject what he said," Harbaugh said. "That's not something that reflects the way the organization feels (or) the way the rest of the players feel."
Culliver told comedian Artie Lange — a credentialed media member this week — on Tuesday that he would not welcome a homosexual on the team. On Thursday, Culliver reversed field on his comments, saying that he would welcome a homosexual teammate and that “everyone is treated equally in (the 49ers’) locker room.”
The 49ers did not say whether Culliver would be disciplined for his comments. Harbaugh said Culliver pledged to him that he would learn from the experience.
"I don't do the gay guys, man. I don't do that," Culliver told Lange. "Ain't got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff."
A nickel back for the 49ers, Culliver is in his second season out of South Carolina. He has started six games this season, playing all 16, and recording two regular-season INTs. His pick against the Falcons in the NFC title game helped spur their comeback and advancement to the Super Bowl.
San Francisco’s prominent LGBT community is outraged. The team issued a release Wednesday renouncing Culliver’s comments, and he released a statement through the team apologizing.
"The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel,” the statement read. “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 told the media Thursday that the statement were his words and not those of a team official or public-relations employee.
Teammates stood behind Culliver but also recognized his mistake. They pledged not to allow it to distract the team before it takes on the Ravens on Sunday.
“I don’t know about their team, but they’ve got so much stuff going on that’s been in the news,” 49ers CB Carlos Rogers said. “We just heard about Chris’ thing just like you all did yesterday. We haven’t paid (any) attention; nobody has addressed it. Coach (Harbaugh) hasn’t said (anything) to us.
“I’m pretty sure they talked to Chris, but you know when you continue to talk and say little stuff, it’s going to blow up. But it’s not going to be a distraction over here.”
49ers WR Randy Moss said, “This is not the 1980s or ’90s. This is 2013. We should be past this.”
But when asked if an openly gay player would be accepted in an NFL locker room, Moss thought long and hard.
“I am not sure,” he said. “I am thinking about that right now, and I am really not sure.”