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49ers Cornerback Chris Culliver: Gays are not welcome in the locker room

A player for the Super Bowl-bound San Francisco 49ers gave a controversial, anti-gay interview just days ahead of the NFL's championship game. Speaking with shock jock Artie Lange, cornerback Chris Culliver said he's not OK with gay players in the NFL or on his team. "I don't do the gay guys man," Culliver said, according to Yahoo. "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 say that gays would not be welcomed in the locker room, but if they remained closeted, he might be all right with them playing. "Yeah, come out 10 years later," he said. "How progressive!," Deadspin's Tom Ley quipped, noting that the "interview came to a hurried conclusion at that point." The question of whether or not gay players would be accepted in professional sports has been in the news lately, as some media professionals speculated whether or not Notre Dame player Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend was a cover for his sexuality. Te'o has since turned down the gay rumors, but the scandal re-opened the conversation about sexual orientation in the National Football League. Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis said it's likely he played with gay players during his career, although none of them were fully out. "Because [the sport] is so testosterone driven, it’d be really, really difficult for a gay player to really stand up and say, ‘Hey, I’m gay and an NFL football player,'" Bettis told HuffPost Live. "And you don't know how the teams are going to respond to that as well." But at the same time, he said, as long as they perform well on the field, he wouldn't have a problem with openly gay teammates. Another former NFL player, Wade Davis, told the Daily Beast that he personally knows of several gay players currently in the NFL, although none of them have come out due to a continuing stigma in the league. Culliver's comments, meanwhile, contrast strongly with those of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who has been an outspoken advocate for gay marriage and LGBT equality. Ayanbadejo said he plans to use the Super Bowl as a platform to talk about same-sex marriage. The 49ers will face off against the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans on Sunday, Feb. 3. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. EST. Update at 6:26pm ET on January 30: NBC Sports reports that the San Francisco 49ers responded to Culliver's comments with the following statement: “The San Francisco 49ers reject the comments that were made yesterday, and have addressed the matter with Chris. There is no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. We have and always will proudly support the LGBT community.”

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