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How Chris Culliver Singlehandedly Ruined The Super Bowl

Jordan Gary |
January 31, 2013 | 1:47 p.m. PST


It's difficult to be excited for the Super Bowl with Culliver's remarks on the brain. (Au Kirk, Creative Commons)
It's difficult to be excited for the Super Bowl with Culliver's remarks on the brain. (Au Kirk, Creative Commons)

Let me start off by saying that I was raised in a divided family. My mom’s side are diehard 49ers fans. My dad’s side are diehard Ravens fans. Before I was capable of truly understanding the sport of football or making my own decisions, I would root for the Niners with my mom’s family and the Ravens with my dad’s family.

It is for this reason that even though my Pats lost in the American Football Conference championship, I was still really excited for the Super Bowl this year. I mean, the Harbowl? Superbaugh? C’mon, those puns were writing themselves. I was even more excited when I heard the Raven’s linebacker, Brendon Ayanbadejo, wanted to use the Super Bowl as a platform to promote marriage equality. I am a huge advocate for marriage equality - and equality in general for that matter - so when I found out that Ayanbadejo hadn't even been approached about it and was reaching out to people of his own accord, I was pretty excited. 

Yesterday, however, I heard about 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver’s remarks in his interview with Artie Lange. When Lange asked if there were any gay guys on the team, Culliver responded with this lovely tidbit:

“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.” (You can listen to the full interview here.)

Suffice it to say I locked myself in my room and listened to Macklemore’s “Same Love” until my faith in humanity was restored. Just kidding - my faith in humanity will never be restored - but it’s a good song. It did give me the chance to ponder what could possibly have made Culliver say anything like this to a member of the press in an age where everyone in the spotlight has to live their lives as if they are being stalked by Sting, lest they risk ridicule, mockery or even fines.

The only reason I could think of is that the sports world is, and always has been, a reflection of society. Unfortunately, it is usually a reflection of the most socially conservative parts of society. For the longest time, baseball refused to integrate. Baseball was “America’s sport” and there were many (white) people in America at the time who thought that black people weren’t really American and thus didn't deserve to play in the Major Leagues. It took the University of Alabama until 1970 to allow black players on their varsity team. In both of these cases, it was clear that teams didn’t allow black athletes to play for them because society in general was not ready to accept black players.

Obviously, it is much easier to hide being gay than it is to hide being black. Even though society may not be ready to accept that gay people are just as capable of playing sports as straight people are, gays are still technically allowed on any team and they can successfully avoid any negative attention from society by hiding the fact that they are gay.

This makes me wonder: how many gay teammates and opponents has Culliver encountered without knowing? How many has he developed friendships with? If he were to find out tomorrow that one of his closest friends on the team were gay, would he stop hanging out with him? Would he ask the 49ers organization to fire said player because “they gotta get up outta here”? Or would he recognize that his friend had always been gay and he had gotten along with him just fine, suddenly becoming aware of his own ignorance?

Of course the 49ers issued an apology to the LGBT community and rejected Culliver’s comments outright. They then made Culliver issue his own apology, and it sounded like the same thing your mom tells you to say when you are six and have to apologize for taking a lollipop from the store without paying for it. It’s contrived and you know it will happen again but you don’t want to get in trouble, so you play along. The only difference is that you always got a timeout after while Chris Culliver is still going to be sitting on the bench and potentially playing in the Super Bowl. In fact, he even got away with calling the question from Lange “disrespectful” in a follow-up interview.

It takes a lot for me not to scream when I hear Chris Culliver’s name. I don’t usually like holding grudges against anyone, especially people I don’t know. However, this is something I can’t dismiss. I understand the 49ers don’t have the same opinion as Culliver does, but I can’t support an organization that allows such an intolerant person to continue to be associated with them and just creates excuses for his behavior. I also understand that Culliver is good at what he does, thus making him good for business, but that is yet another excuse and I think it’s time that we put basic human rights above money for once.

Between this and Ray Lewis, I am just not excited about the Super Bowl anymore.


Reach Contributor Jordan Gary here.



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