San Francisco 49er cornerback Chris Culliver found himself at odds with his own PR flak tonight, as both tried to spin Culliver’s earlier comments that gays should get out of the NFL.
In an apology this evening, Culliver said he didn’t mean the “discriminatory” words he uttered earlier:
“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.”
At the same time, his PR flak, Theodore Palmer, contradicted Culliver’s admission of guilt, and seemed to blame the entire affair on gays and their allies who were offended that Culliver told them to stay in the closet for another ten years and to get out of the NFL. Per ESPN:
Culliver, 24, planned to address his remarks formally at a news conference during the 49ers’ media availability Thursday morning, according to his personal public relations representative, Theodore Palmer.
“Chris is very apologetic for any harm caused to anyone,” Palmer told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “His intent was not that at all. He is one who celebrates the differences of others. All of this was just a big mistake. It was interpreted wrong.”
Right. It’s our fault now.
Let me remind folks of Culliver’s words earlier that we misinterpreted, and/or that Culliver didn’t realize sounded hurtful and ugly:
“I don’t do the gay guys man,” said Culliver, whose Niners play the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. “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 quizzed by Lange whether any homosexual athletes would need to keep their sexuality a secret in football, Culliver responded: “Yeah, come out 10 years later after that.”
Nobody misinterpreted anything.
While it’s all well and good that Culliver issued an apology, and it is a decent apology, his PR flak should stop talking if he’s going to contradict his client. Now for the bigger question: Is an apology enough? I’m all for apologies. And repentance. And forgiveness. But when you say “we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do,” is it really penance enough to say “wow that looked hurtful in print”? I’m glad he apologized. I think he needs to do more. I’m sure GLAAD could find some do-good pro-LGBT project Culliver could work on. If he wants to prove he’s not the hateful bigot he sure sounds like, he should prove it. Or get out of football, tonight.
Not to mention, look at the Culliver’s original quote about gay people. The man doesn’t exactly speak the Queen’s English. He didn’t write that apology (someone ought to ask Culliver what “derogatory” means, I’d bet money he doesn’t know – my point being, it’s hard to be apologetic when you don’t understand the apology because you didn’t write it). And while I don’t expect him to issue an apology riddled with errors, we need to hear from him directly, in his own words. And he needs a better explanation than “gosh that looks hurtful in print.”
It also might help were Culliver to actually tweet the apology. He hasn’t yet. (And while he’s at it, he can get rid of the tweet joking about “mean” women having their period.)
As for the 49ers, they still ought to explain why they suspended Brandon Jacobs last month for criticizing an unnamed coach, and announced it publicly, but haven’t announced any disciplinary action against Culliver. Was Brandon Jacobs permitted to publicly apologize? Surely, insulting an anonymous coach (Jacobs simply referred to his “boss”) isn’t nearly as bad as slurring an entire ethnic minority and suggesting it get out of the NFL. So why the double standard from the San Francisco 49ers?
And finally, what do you think? Was Chris Culliver’s apology sufficient? Feel free to weigh in in the comments, below.