NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver has apologized for homophobic remarks during an interview and acknowledged the comments were "hurtful and ugly."
Asked Tuesday if he thought any of his teammates were gay, Culliver said: "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."
The question was asked by comedian Artie Lange during Media Day, the Los Angeles Times said, an opportunity for reporters to interview players in the Super Bowl.
Culliver apologized twice -- once in a statement released by the team Wednesday, and again Thursday as he spoke with reporters covering the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
"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," he said Wednesday. "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."
He told reporters Thursday "everyone is treated equally" in the 49ers locker room and said he has spoken with Coach Jim Harbaugh, teammates and 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke. Culliver said he had intended the comment to be funny, in keeping with the comic tone of Lange's interviews with players.
Harbaugh told reporters Thursday he does not believe "there was malice in [Culliver's] heart. "He's not that kind of person. He's not an ugly person, he's not a discriminating person," Harbaugh said.
"I think it took this incident, to hear those words being said by him, to see them written down on paper for him to realize they were hurtful and ugly and I think, I know, that he's taken that to heart," Harbaugh said.
"There is no place for discrimination within our organization at any level," the 49ers said in a statement. "We have and always will proudly support the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community."
The 49ers in August were the first NFL team to release a video in support of the "It Gets Better" campaign, intended to encourage gay and lesbian teens cope with the effects of homophobia, USA Today noted.