San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver selfishly shot off his mouth yesterday, creating a firestorm and a nightmare for his team and for the National Football League as they head to the Superbowl. For that alone, the NFL should suspend him, having put his entire team at the center of an unnecessary controversy as they’re trying to focus on the game.
But for making horrendously bigoted, anti-gay remarks there is no question that Culliver must be suspended if the NFL is serious when about its claims to be taking on homophobia in its ranks. Thanks to players like Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and the Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo and their pro-gay advocacy, we’re seeing a shift among NFL players. But the leadership needs to take strong stand against Culliver’s kind of bigotry if that’s to continue.
“I don’t do the gay guys man,” Culver told radio host Artie Lange. “I don’t do that. 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. Nah… can’t be… in the locker room man. Nah.”
When Lange asked whether gay athletes would need to stay closeted in football, Culliver responded: “Yeah, come out 10 years later after that.”
The NFL and many of its officials as well as many team owners, managers and coaches, have gone to great lengths in condemning homophobia and saying it would be fine for a player to come out as gay, that he’d be accepted and welcome. But statements like this, if they go unpunished, make all of that look like window dressing, as no player is going to even think about coming out.
The San Francisco 49ers issued a statement condemning Culliver’s remarks and saying they have “addressed the matter with Chris” and that they “proudly support the LGBT community.” But again, without any repercussions it’s all just words. Culliver himself issued a ridiculously weak apology that he didn’t even seem to write himself: “The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel,” he said. “Those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart.”
Really? Culliver’s p.r. rep, Theodore Palmer, issued an even more nonsensical statement: “Chris is very apologetic for any harm caused to anyone… He is one who celebrates the differences of others. All of this was just a big mistake. It was interpreted wrong.”
So now, we interpreted it all wrong — it’s our fault! — because these were just “reflections of thoughts” in Culliver’s “head” but not in his “heart,” all just “a big mistake.” I’ll say.
This cannot stand. The 49ers and the NFL need to take action and send a strong message. John Aravosis at Americablog points out that the 49ers suspended running back Brandon Jacobs just last month for making derogatory comments about his bosses. Are the team management saying they take it seriously when they, themselves, are insulted, but not when closeted gay players and gay fans are treated to bigoted, offensive remarks?
If there is no suspension, the message from the NFL to young people, amid continued reports of suicide by LGBT youth who experienced bullying, is that it’s okay for sports players and everyone else to attack gays and demand they stay closeted and living in shame. If there are no repercussions, the NFL’s words about support and acceptance of gay athletes and fans are completely empty.
Source: Huffington Post