New Orleans — San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver apologized Wednesday night for anti-gay remarks he made during a Super Bowl media day interview a day earlier.
“The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel,” he said in a statement released by the team. “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.”
The 49ers said earlier Wednesday they had addressed the comments but didn’t elaborate on whether the second-year player would face disciplinary action or a fine.
During an interview Tuesday at the Superdome, Culliver responded to questions from comedian Artie Lange by saying he wouldn’t welcome a gay player in the locker room. He also said the 49ers didn’t have any homosexual players and, if they did, those players should leave.
“Ain’t got no gay people on the team,” Culliver said. “They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff.”
Lange asked Culliver to reiterate his thoughts, to which the player said, “It’s true.” He added he wouldn’t welcome a gay teammate – no matter how talented.
“Nah. Can’t be … in the locker room, nah,” he said. “You’ve gotta come out 10 years later after that.”
The team responded by 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.”
CRITICISM FOR REFEREE
Jerome Boger, a member of NFL officiating crews for nine years, will be the referee at the Super Bowl amid accusations by a former official-turned-broadcaster that the league doctored Boger’s rating.
Boger has worked four divisional playoff games, including the 49ers’ victory over Green Bay this year, but this is his first Super Bowl. He will become the second black referee to work the title game.
His impending selection, which was formally announced Wednesday, was criticized earlier this week by Jim Daopoulos, who was quoted in The New York Times as saying the grading of some officials, including Boger, was altered.
Daopoulos worked 11 years as an on-field official and 12 years as a supervisor before joining NBC as an analyst.
“I’m looking at the seven guys who are working in the Super Bowl, and to be quite honest, several of them should not be on the field,” Daopoulos told The Times.
Daopoulos told the paper he thought the league predetermined who would work the Super Bowl.
The league and the referees’ union have denied such claims, citing the evaluation process. Ray Anderson, NFL executive vice president of football operations, called the allegations “patently false and insulting to Jerome Boger.”
SANDY HOOK SINGERS
The chorus from Sandy Hook Elementary School will sing “America the Beautiful” before the Super Bowl.
The chorus features 26 children from Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders and six adults were killed in a Dec. 14 shooting rampage.
The performance will be part of CBS’ pregame show.