NEW ORLEANS — San Francisco cornerback Chris Culliver apologized Thursday for anti-gay comments he made during a Media Day interview Tuesday with comedian Artie Lange.
Culliver, who played at Garner High and collegiately at South Carolina, issued a statement Wednesday expressing regret for his remarks. Thursday morning, he apologized repeatedly while facing a media scrum larger than those surrounding any other player at the 49ers team hotel.
Its not what I felt. Thats why Im addressing the situation today, Culliver said. I support gay people, gay communities and different anything. Im sorry that I made that comment, that I hurt anyone or made any comment that might affect them, the organization, the NFL, anything like that.
Culliver said he has relatives who are gay, and that he cleared it up with them, as well.
I talked to them about it. Some people contacted me. I just talked to them about it and moved on, Culliver said. They understand where I was coming from. They heard everything. Thats why they called me directly. And they heard from me.
Culliver said he was never in a serious matter when he told Lange in response to a question that the 49ers did not have any gay players, and he wouldnt welcome a gay teammate in the locker room.
I dont do the gay guys, man, Culliver told Lange. Aint got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up out of here if they do. Cant be with that sweet stuff.
Lange, a so-called shock jock who formerly was part of The Howard Stern Show, set the tone for the one-minute taped interview when he asked Culliver how many white women he would have sex with in New Orleans this week.
His (second) question was very disrespectful. I felt a little offended. But there were just so many people around. And you cant get away from everybody, Culliver said. Guys like that shouldnt harass players like us. But hopefully something will happen.
Niners coach Jim Harbaugh said he spoke with Culliver about the incident, but would not divulge details of their conversation. Harbaugh said he does not believe the remarks reflected Cullivers true feelings.
There wasnt malice in his heart. Hes not that kind of person. Hes not an ugly person. Hes not a discriminating person, Harbaugh said. I think it took this incident to hear those words being said by him and to see them written down on paper, for him to realize that they were hurtful and ugly. I know that he takes that to heart and I really think this is something hell learn and grow from.
Culliver called his remarks ugly comments that resonated loudly in San Francisco and the Bay Area, which has a large gay and lesbian population.
Hopefully, I can learn and grow from this experience and this situation, Culliver said. I love San Francisco.
Culliver, 24, a third-round pick in 2011, started six games this season. He had an interception in San Franciscos victory over Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game.
Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has used his Super Bowl platform this week to advocate for gay rights. Ayanbadejo told reporters he thinks Culliver will turn the controversy into a positive.
But Ayanbadejo also said he believes Cullivers comments reflect the stance of 50 percent of the leagues players on the issue.
San Francisco wideout Randy Moss is hopeful NFL players will be more accepting of the gay culture and the possibility of a gay teammate, saying its 2013 not the 1980s or 90s.
I think in our game of football, a lot of people say they couldnt tolerate. But its here, Moss added. I dont ever separate anyone from race or anything like that. But there are gays in sports and I just think we need to let it go and just move on.
Moss said hes wondered whether certain teammates were gay, but its not my position or your position to call them out or to make them look bad or make fun of them.
Culliver said he had not talked to teammates about the incident because he doesnt want to take away from the teams focus.
I dont want that to be a distraction on the team and for an incident like this to cause us to unfortunately not win the Super Bowl, Culliver said. Thats what these guys are here for. Thats what Im here for. And thats what were going to try to do.
Asked if he thinks the remarks will follow him the rest of his career, Culliver said, I dont know. Hopefully not.
Person: 704-358-5123; Twitter: @josephperson