'I love San Francisco' 49ers' Culliver apologizes for anti-gay comments ASSOCIATED PRESS
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver apologized Thursday for anti-gay comments he made to a comedian during Super Bowl media day, saying "that's not what I feel in my heart."
"I'm sorry if I offended anyone. They were very ugly comments," Culliver said during an hour-long media session. "Hopefully I learn and grow from this experience and this situation."
He said he would welcome a gay teammate to the 49ers, a reversal of his remarks to Artie Lange two days earlier during an interview at the Superdome.
"I treat everyone equal," Culliver said. "That's not how I feel."
He added that he realized his comments were especially offensive to many people in San Francisco and the Bay Area, which is home to a large gay community.
"I love San Francisco," Culliver said.
During the interview with Lange, Culliver responded to questions by saying he wouldn't welcome a gay player in the locker room. He also said the 49ers didn't have any gay players, and if they did those players should leave.
San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh met privately with Culliver to discuss the remarks.
"I reject what he said," Harbaugh said. "That's not something that reflects the way the organization feels, the way the rest of the players feel."
The coach would not discuss if Culliver would face discipline from the team, such as a fine or loss of playing time.
"He pledged to grow from it," Harbaugh said.
The interview began with Lange asking Culliver about his sexual plans with women during Super Bowl week. Lange followed up with a question about whether Culliver would consider pursuing a gay man.
"I don't do the gay guys, man. I don't do that," Culliver said during the one-minute taped interview. "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."
Lange asked Culliver to reiterate his thoughts, to which the player said, "It's true." He added he wouldn't welcome a gay teammate -- no matter how talented.
"Nah. Can't be ... in the locker room, nah," he said. "You've gotta come out 10 years later after that."
The 24-year-old Culliver, a third-round draft pick in 2011 out of South Carolina, made 47 tackles with two interceptions and a forced fumble this season while starting six games for the NFC champion Niners (13-4-1).
He had his first career postseason interception in San Francisco's 28-24 win at Atlanta for the NFC title, which sent the 49ers to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995. They will face the AFC champion Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
The 49ers participate in the NFL's "It Gets Better" anti-bullying campaign. Three organizations working for LGBT inclusion in sports -- Athlete Ally, You Can Play, and GLAAD -- reacted to Culliver's remarks and later acknowledged his apology.
Calling Lange's questions "real disrespectful," Culliver said he realized he was speaking to a comedian and not a journalist.
"That was pretty much in a joking manner," the player said. "It's nothing about how I feel."
Steelers hire Smith: The Pittsburgh Steelers have hired longtime Washington Redskins assistant Danny Smith as special teams coordinator.
Smith, a Pittsburgh native, spent the last nine seasons in the same capacity with the Redskins. The 59-year-old Smith has spent 18 years in the NFL. Prior to joining the Redskins in 2004 he worked with the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles.
The Steelers were erratic on special teams in 2012. Kicker Shaun Suisham had a career year, making 28 of 31 field goals. However, the kick return and kick coverage units struggled at times. Pittsburgh was ninth in kickoff return average but 28th in punt return average.
The Steelers were 16th in kickoff return yardage allowed and 11th in punt return yardage allowed, but did give up a punt return for a score in a 13-10 loss to Baltimore in November.
Driver retires: Donald Driver, the Green Bay Packers all-time leading receiver announced his retirement Thursday morning, with a public ceremony planned for Feb. 6 at the Lambeau Field Atrium.
"I've always said I never want to wear another uniform. I've always said that I owe it to the fans to retire as a Packer," Driver said. "I feel like I can still play, but if I can't play for my organization, then I can't play for anyone else."
Driver finishes his 14-year career as Green Bay's all-time leader in yards receiving (10,137 yards), catches (743) and 1,000-yard seasons (seven), and is third behind Don Hutson and Sterling Sharpe with 61 touchdown receptions. A four-time Pro Bowler, he was Green Bay's MVP in 2002 and was part of the team that won the Super Bowl following the 2010 season.
Only Brett Favre played more games in a Packers uniform.
Drafted by Green Bay in the seventh round of the 1999 draft, Driver became one of the most popular and prolific Packers. He had six straight 1,000-yard seasons from 2004-09, averaging 14 yards per catch during the stretch.