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by Stuart Wilber on February 4, 2013

in News,Op-Ed,Sports,Stuart Wilber

Post image for STANDING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY: ‘The Big Gay Super Bowl’ Redux


For Chris Culliver and his San Francisco 49ers what began as a very bad week ended even worse; their dreams of winning Super Bowl XVLII have faded. There was no trophy at the end of the rainbow of what some have called “The Gayest Super Bowl ever.” Read: STANDING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY: ‘Like, Is America Ready For The Big Gay Super Bowl?’ In case you missed the kerfuffle, early in the week, Culliver’s original comments:

“I don’t do the gay guys man. I don’t do that, no. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, you know, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah … can’t be in the locker room. Nah.”

Culliver’s original apology:

“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.”

CNN’s Erin Burnett in an interview worth watching, asked, “Is the NFL ready for gay players?”

Of course the real question should have been, “Is the NFL ready for OPENLY Gay Players?”

NBC Sports reported that Culliver continued his apologies at a pre-Bowl press conference held later in the week:

The 49ers stationed him at a table near the edge of the hotel ballroom where interviews are being held… Other players, the 49ers’ actual stars, were at podiums nearby, with team and league logos slathered across the backdrops. Culliver, wearing his jersey and a 49ers ski cap, was left to go it alone, repeatedly apologizing and saying he didn’t mean the thing he said, and hoping it all goes away. When he was asked if he was worried  that he’d always be  labeled as a homophobic,  Culliver shook his head  and said,  “No . . . I mean, hopefully not, that’s why I’m doing this today.”

So it’s no surprise that the LA Times reports, “Chris Culliver to have sensitivity training, work with LGBT group.”

The Trevor Project’s communications director Lauren McGinnis, in a statement said:

“We really feel that education about LGBT youth and the challenges they face is a great way to get  [Chris Culliver] started on the right path, especially since he’s a role model and there are kids all over the country with his poster on their wall, his jersey – his fans that take his words and actions to heart.”

Culliver said that among those he conferred with after his anti-gay comments was a gay relative (his gay cousin Andrew Brown, a director of the documentary “Word Is Out.)

A press release announcing the cornerback’s commitment to work with The Trevor Project stated:

“Brown has come forward in support of Chris and his efforts to educate himself about the true impact of his commentary.”

24-year old Chris Culliver had a difficult start in life. His mother, eventually a Temple University  graduate, was single and only 16 when he was born. When he was eight, his stepfather and a cousin were shot to death, and his mother was wounded, in a Philadelphia bar fight. In college, he almost died from complications following routine shoulder surgery.

His public relations representative, Theodore Palmer said that Culliver will work with the Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis and suicide intervention to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, while volunteering at a crisis center in San Francisco. “It’s just an opportunity for him to learn about his comments and educate himself about the LGBT community, and grow. It’s the first step in learning about his words.”

For Chris Culliver, this ‘first step” may lead him to standing on the right side of history.

Image, top, by Joe Brokken

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