NEW ORLEANS -- Chris Culliver found himself at the center of a media swarm Thursday morning, as the San Francisco 49ers held their final full-team press conference of the week.
Late Tuesday night, audio was released of a Media Day interview between Culliver and radio host Artie Lange, in which Culliver made derogatory remarks about the possibility of gay players in the NFL.
“I don’t do the gay guys man, I don’t do that," Culliver told Lange. "Nah, we ain’t got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah, can’t be in the locker room."
The 49ers released a statement Wednesday afternoon stating that the organization rejected Culliver's comments and "have addressed the matter with Chris."
Culliver later released his own statement, apologizing.
Thursday, he repeatedly had to answer questions about the interview with Lange.
"It's been very difficult because I'm a little disappointed," said Culliver of the past 24 hours or so. "(People think) that I don't like homosexuals and I don't support gay communities and things like that, which I do. I have gay relatives who I talk to, not on a daily basis, but I do and I support them."
Culliver's teammate, Donte Whitner, said that he had a brief talk with Culliver to tell him what to expect at Thursday's media availability. Whitner also said that "I guarantee (Culliver) has learned his lesson now."
"He's a young guy -- everyone else in our secondary is a little older than him. We're always trying to teach him lessons," Whitner added, regarding Culliver. "He is sort of the flamboyant type of kid sometimes, sometimes he does things that we don't really know why he does them. That's Chris.
"He'll learn from this. We'll all say bits and pieces to him, and he'll get past it. He won't make the same mistake again."
In the statement he released Wednesday, Culliver said he did not realize that his comments were "hurtful and ugly" until he saw them in print. He reiterated that stance Thursday, saying that he did not consider the interview problematic "until they posted it and everybody made a scene so big."
"If you hear the whole interview, it was a disrespectful question at first," Culliver said. "If you hear the whole interview, if you hear my voice, I don't have nothing against gay people, nothing against any homosexuals."
Culliver certainly deserves the heat he's taken in the aftermath of that interview with Lange, though this is far from the first time that an NFL player, either active or retired, has made remarks disparaging the idea of gay players in the locker room.
"It's a rough game, a very rough game and I guess you think of foootball, you don't think of someone being gay," Whitner said. "But the actuality of it all, the facts are that people in the NFL are gay that just haven't come out. I can guarantee you there are people who are gay in the NFL right now."