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By TED SILLANPAA

Three 49ers gave their views on gays in the National Football League, but only one has become a flashpoint for what will become a national controversy.

The USA Today published a story quoting two 49ers about whether they view former 49ers offensive lineman Kwame Harris any differently after a public altercation with his former male partner revealed that the former Stanford star is gay.

Delanie Walker told the USA Today in regard to Harris that, “That’s him. If that’s what he’s into, that’s what he’s into. I can’t judge a person for how he feels. Things happen. He was a great player. I don’t see him no differently.”

Punter Andy Lee said, “Whatever sexual preference you have, that’s your own thing. That’s not anything for me to judge you on.”

Shock jock and comic Artie Lange interviewed defensive back Chris Culliver at Super Bowl media day and the Niners player said:

“I don’t do the gay guys man. 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.”

Culliver went on to expose himself as a near monosyllabic interview subject who gave about the explanation of how gay players would be accepted in the NFL as we would’ve expected … in 1965.

“Can’t be with that sweet stuff,” Culliver said. “Nah … can’t be … in the locker room man. Nah.”

It’s 2013. While NFL locker rooms can’t be expected to be a hub for cultural understanding and diversity, it’s unfortunate that guys with barely intelligible thoughts like those Culliver expressed overshadow more enlightened views from his teammates that more reflect America in this century.

Of course, Artie Lange is a standup comic who went to media day looking for a guy like Culliver to take a stance like he did — ideally with references to “sweet stuff” and how he’s certain the 49ers “don’t got no gay people on the team.” Culliver’s comments attracted a load of attention to Lange’s radio show that, frankly, I didn’t know existed until Culliver’s comments were made public.

The USA Today and other media outlets took a little more time to find players to discuss, briefly, their view of a former NFL player (Harris) coming out as gay. The USA Today went looking for what players think today. As one would expect, Lange took the approach a shock jock would take and likely asked the same question regarding homosexuality in the NFL of any number of players until Culliver finally gave him the answer he could use to get attention for his radio show … and make Culliver and his NFL peers seem beyond ignorant.

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Comments

13 Comments

  1. The Bat

    And beyond ignorant is what he seems, to be sure. Although I don’t doubt Andy Lee or Delanie Walker’s sincerity, however, I wonder if we won’t have to see a openly gay player in the NFL which, to date, we haven’t seen, before we can feel confident Culliver’s intolerance isn’t the sad truth. There most certainly are gay players in the NFL, there has to be, but we have yet to know who they are, and indeed Kwame Harris’s orientation is now coming out after he’s no longer in the league. I can’t help but wonder if Culliver’s ignorant stance isn’t the norm in NFL locker rooms, and the sensitive stance taken by players and coaches in the media the exception.

    January 30th, 2013 6:33 pm

  2. overtime

    Bat…I really appreciate you following my stuff and sharing your thoughts. I don’t question the sincerity of what Lee and Walker said … because they didn’t do anything except point out the obvious. If there’s a gay player or two or three in the locker room, it’s OK with them. It’s not their business. I don’t doubt they sincerely believe it’s not their business. … I do know that Culliver’s not exactly some guy on an island with thoughts radically differently from others. If there weren’t lots of guys who felt that way in sports, somebody would’ve come out by now. Former NBA center John Amaechi is one of the brightest, strongest, most thoughtful athletes I’ve ever heard interviewed and he didn’t come out until he retired because he didn’t think he could handle the backlash. If Amaechi thinks the backlash would be too much for him, my hunch is that there’d be a big, nasty backlash — maybe from the fans more than the teammates, who knows?

    January 30th, 2013 6:41 pm

  3. The Bat

    No problem, Ted, I enjoy your perspective. I wonder myself what the backlash would be and from whom. It would be a definite “check thyself” moment for pro sports, that’s for sure. Seems to me there was a player from MLB who came out after leaving the game, and he said that his SO was a current player, and a high-profile one at that. Gotta head to rehearsal now, so I can’t research it. Have a great night.

    January 30th, 2013 7:31 pm

  4. David

    Are you saying Culliver shouldn’t have voiced his views or that he isn’t entitled to hold those views? I believe in a free society we are entitled to our belief’s even if they are not in the majority?

    January 31st, 2013 12:12 pm

  5. overtime

    David…Did you read anywhere me stating that Culliver shouldn’t have the right to express his beliefs?
    Ted

    January 31st, 2013 12:15 pm

  6. overtime

    Bat…Logic indicates that the pool of professional athletes would have the same percentage of gays and lesbians as the rest of the country, I imagine. Ted

    January 31st, 2013 12:20 pm

  7. David

    It wasn’t meant for you, I should have addressed it differently. My comment was aimed more at the many posters who seem to believe he is not even entitled to hold his beliefs.

    January 31st, 2013 1:24 pm

  8. Matt

    I don’t remember posting that Culliver doesn’t have a right to express his beliefs either, but if I were, I wouldn’t classify his comments as “beliefs” per se. I would more so call it straight up homophobia and, if he wants to get into the twenty-first century with the rest of us, he would do well to get over it. Gay people are here to stay, are generally upstanding, responsible and respectbable members of society and don’t deserve to be discriminated against, even if they play a sport steeped in misogony and violence.

    January 31st, 2013 1:57 pm

  9. David

    Well Ted, you now have me confused. You say in your headline that other 49er’s are “more enlightened” and then you state “if he wants to get into the twenty-first century with the rest of us, he would do well to get over it.”

    That reads to me that Culliver doesn’t hold the same beliefs that you do so he can’t (shouldn’t?) have those beliefs. Maybe I don’t understand your position? I thought phobic meant fear. Culliver’s statement doesn’t read like fear to me, maybe intolerance?

    January 31st, 2013 3:18 pm

  10. overtime

    David…The 49ers who acknowledge that teammates are free to lead their personal lives in any way they choose are more enlightened than a guy who expresses his distaste for personal lifestyle choices in his workplace. The modern American workplace, typically, offers workers protection from open expressions that are critical of religion, personal lifestyle choices, etc. Right? I can’t walk around my office openly criticizing someone’s religious preference, even if I am free as an American to have personal views about religion, personal lifestyle choices, etc.

    When I started in the workplace decades ago, it was OK to make comments that would result in disciplinary action and, perhaps, legal action in today’s workplace. So, Culliver needs to get into the 21st century where it’s unacceptable and often against labor laws to saw the type things that he said.

    Are you just interested in my personal views of the gay and lesbian lifestyle? Because, the piece actually deals primarily with how the media is focused absolutely on Culliver’s views while no attention was paid to what the other two guys said. Ted

    January 31st, 2013 4:59 pm

  11. overtime

    Matt…It seems to me that folks who question the freedom to express opinions and so forth typically tend to find themselves in agreement with whatever opinion is drawing fire publicly. There aren’t many workplaces where labor laws wouldn’t put the thoughts Culliver expressed in danger of costing him his job, so the player might want to acknowledge that he might not want to exercise his freedom of speech when he is representing his employer that caters to many customers who were hurt by his comments. TED

    January 31st, 2013 5:04 pm

  12. David

    I don’t care what your or Culliver’s views are on the gay and lesbian lifestyle. I don’t like the hypocrisy regarding tolerance of other points of view. You were the one who said he Culliver wasn’t “enlightened”. Maybe the other 49ers aren’t really “enlightened” but are actually more media savvy?

    January 31st, 2013 5:25 pm

  13. overtime

    David…If you don’t know the climate we live in or the labor laws and how to deal with the media … you’re not enlightened. Culliver apparently saw the light and apologized today. … You’re clearly upset about a point you’re unwilling to make. And, as I’ve mentioned a few times, the point of the story was how the media chose to spotlight Culliver and ignore that there are folks expressing differing views. TED

    January 31st, 2013 6:16 pm

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