A unfortunate controversy is brewing in New Orleans that doesn't directly have to do with the Big Game on Sunday, and the 49ers immediately tried to put a stop to the bad publicity by saying the team doesn't discriminate against anyway.
Here's what happened: 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver told shock jock Artie Lange at Media Day that he "doesn't do" gays and added they would not be welcome in the team's locker room. The comments (posted below) were met with an immediate and public "rejection" by the team.
Lange, who used to be on the Howard Stern show, admitted the interview was "goofy" before Lange turned it to the subject of homosexuality.
Lange played the brief clip on his Sirius XM radio show Tuesday night.
"I don't do the gay guys, man. I don't do that. No." Culliver said.
Lange then asked if there were any gay people on the 49ers.
"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. Na," Culliver answered. He went to say in a joking way that gay people couldn't be in the locker room.
By 5:30 p.m. California time, Culliver released a statement apologizing for what he said.
"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. Further, I apologize to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience,” Culliver's statement read.
Here's the clip of the interview with Lange:
The controversy comes on the same week news came out that former NFL 49er Kwame Harris was charged with assaulting a former boyfriend.
Harris called Culliver's comments hateful.
“It’s surprising that in 2013 Chris Culliver would use his 15 minutes to spread vitriol and hate. I recognize that these are comments that he may come to regret and that he may come to see that gay people are not so different than straight people,” Harris told NBC Bay Area's Raj Mathai.
The team issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
"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."
This is not the first time a 49er player has made such a comment.
In 2002, running back Garrison Hearst told a reporter he wouldn’t want a homosexual teammate. The team issued a similar statement as above immediately. The next day Hearst issued an apology, saying in part: “I didn’t realize it would be so harmful.”
Literally thousands of reporters descended on the Super Dome yesterday to interview 49er and Raven players.
Some of the interviews were serious and focused on sports. Other were whacky with the reporter dressed up in comic gear.