Chris Culliver had every reason to be excited when the San Francisco 49ers arrived for Super Bowl 47 in 2013.
Culliver, a second-year defensive back, had a great chance of winning his first Super Bowl ring. What began as a fun week ended with Culliver joining former NBA star Tim Hardaway among the athletes who made ugly, homophobic comments.
Then, Culliver played a significant role in the San Francisco 49ers leaving New Orleans with a loss. Let’s look back at just how bad Culliver’s Super Bowl week became.
Chris Culliver was a talented defensive back
The San Francisco 49ers’ 2011 draft class is far better than people seem to remember.
San Francisco drafted Aldon Smith with the seventh overall pick, and before his various legal issues, Smith was one of the NFL’s best pass-rushers. The 49ers used the 36th overall pick on quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who had a memorable NFL career and is now an equal rights activist.
San Francisco drafted South Carolina cornerback Chris Culliver in round three, and he snagged three interceptions and broke up 19 passes in his first two years with the 49ers.
Later, San Francisco used a fifth-round pick on Appalachian State guard Daniel Kilgore, who started 56 games in his first nine NFL seasons. Kilgore now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs.
He made homophobic comments the week of Super Bowl 47
Chris Culliver began Super Bowl week in January 2013 on a very, very bad note.
Culliver conducted a 1-on-1 interview with radio host Artie Lange early in the week. Lange asked Culliver if he would be open to playing alongside an openly gay NFL player.
“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. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah … can’t be … in the locker room man. Nah.”
Lange asked Culliver and other 49ers players their thoughts after an incident involving former 49ers offensive tackle Kwame Harris. Police charged Harris, who played for the 49ers from 2003-07, with assaulting an ex-boyfriend in August 2012.
Harrison served five days in jail and received three years of probation in November 2013.
The 49ers distanced themselves from Culliver’s comments. According to The Guardian, a team-issued statement read that the 49ers “have and always will proudly support the LGBT community.”
According to NFL Media, Culliver said the comments were “not how I feel.”
“It has taken me seeing them in print to realize that they are hurtful and ugly,” Culliver said. “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.”
Chris Culliver had an awful Super Bowl performance
If Chris Culliver hoped that getting on the field for Super Bowl 47 would help put his rough week behind him, he was very, very wrong.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco picked on Culliver throughout the game. Flacco hooked up with receiver Jacoby Jones on a 56-yard touchdown where Culliver was beaten badly.
Another Ravens receiver, Anquan Boldin, stiff-armed Culliver with force at one point on a catch-and-run. Culliver also drew a pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter.
Baltimore held off a late rally from Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers to win 34-31.
Culliver had further problems in a 49ers uniform. In April 2013, Culliver made offensive comments about women on his Instagram.
Culliver then tore his ACL early in the 49ers’ training camp. He has not played in the NFL since a 2017 stint with the Indianapolis Colts.