San Francisco 49ers Cornerback Chris Culliver embarrassed himself, his teammates, and the NFL with his blatantly anti-gay remarks:
“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.”
Under pressure, Culliver offered a half-assed apology that satisfied no one.
“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.”
The NFL must take swift action and suspend Culliver for the first two games without pay next season. By doing so, they will send a strong signal to players that homophobia is unacceptable in the league.
There are some who believe that he should be suspended for the Super Bowl. I believe that this would be a mistake, because it would punish the entire team — the first one to make an “It Get’s Better” video — during the most important game of the players’ careers. Suspending Culliver at the beginning of next season would send a message, without potentially altering the outcome of a game on the worldwide stage. However, it is critical that the NFL take action immediately and exact a price for such rank bigotry. If the NFL simply winks and nods, it will have such distracting and unacceptable flareups over-and-over-again.