Chris Culliver. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Lindsay H. Jones, USA TODAY Sports
NEW ORLEANS - San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver said Thursday morning he would accept a gay teammate as he apologized for homophobic comments he made earlier this week on a national radio show's podcast.
"Everyone is treated equally in our locker room," Culliver said.
Culliver previously told radio host Artie Lange that gay players would not be accepted.
"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," he said in the interview taped on Tuesday.
Culliver was swarmed by reporters at the 49ers' media availability Thursday morning. He said he spoke with head coach Jim Harbaugh after his comments. Culliver said he made the comments in a joking manner.
"I was really not thinking. Or, something I thought, but not something that I feel in my heart," Culliver said.
Culliver said he did not see the reaction to his comments on Twitter, nor did he talk about them or the backlash with teammates.
"I'm not trying to bring any distraction to the team. We're trying to win a Super Bowl," Culliver said.
Harbaugh, who spoke with reporters before Culliver did, seemed to offer support to the embattled player.
"I do believe that there wasn't malice in his heart. He's not that kind of person. He's not an ugly person, he's not a discriminating person," Harbaugh said. "He may have heard talk like that and may have thought that that those were opinions that he learned and repeated those. He regrets that. That's not who he is. That's not what he really believes."
Harbaugh spoke with Culliver about the comments, and though the coach declined to detail what they spoke about, Harbaugh said he believes Culliver will "learn and grow" from the experience. The comments were met with massive backlash, and the team yesterday issued a strong statement condemning Culliver's comments.
"I think it took this incident, to hear those words being said by him, to see them written down on paper for him to realize they were hurtful and ugly and I think, I know, that he's taken that to heart," Harbaugh said. "I really believe that this is something he'll learn and grow from."
Culliver's comments are rooted from news Monday that former 49ers offensive tackle Kwame Harris was in court for a pretrial appearance on charges that he assaulted a former boyfriend. Harris last played for the Niners in 2007, but many of his former teammates offered him support Tuesday at media day.
USA TODAY Sports