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The Last Word
updated 2/1/2013 2:46:26 PM ET 2013-02-01T19:46:26

Wade Davis said 49ers player Chris Culliver's recent comments about gay men in sports will open dialogue before the biggest game of the year, the Super Bowl.

Former NFL player Wade Davis is voicing his concern about San Francisco 49ers player Chris Culliver’s recent anti-gay comments. Davis came out as gay last year after leaving the NFL and is currently a member of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network sport-advisory board.

Culliver’s comments were recorded and played on the radio Tuesday, in which he said, “I don’t do the gay guys, man…No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do.”

When further pressed by radio host Artie Lange about whether gay athletes should keep their sexuality a secret, Culliver responded, “Yeah, come out 10 years later after that.”

On Friday, Davis said on MSNBC he was “very hurt” by Culliver’s statements.

“I had two different thoughts,” David told Thomas Roberts. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is going to help us have this conversation during the biggest game of the year,’ but then I also thought, ‘Wow, there’s a lot of players who are closeted in the NFL that are going to go deeper into the closet because of these comments.”

Davis said Culliver’s words reinforced negative stereotypes, especially in the world of sports. ”I think that people grow up with the notion that if you are gay, then you’re soft or, as Chris said, you’re ‘sweet,’” he said. “You know, the fact that a gay man can play a sport better than some straight men is an attack against their own ideas of masculinity.”

He added that it was the responsibility of straight players to come forward as allies to create an environment of tolerance. “If allies come out and say, ‘You know what, I’m against homophobia. I welcome a gay teammate,’ then it will be easier for someone who is gay to come out.”

When asked whether he regrets not coming out while he was an active NFL player, Davis responded that he didn’t think he was ready at the time. “I think that I had a lot of self-hatred,” he admitted. “I think that if I had had more allies in my corner, then yes.”

Culliver has since apologized for his remarks, but the story doesn’t stop there: two of Culliver’s teammates are denying participation in an “It Gets Better” video, despite clearly appearing in one.

Video: Fmr NFL player: We need more straight allies to speak up for the LGBT community

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    >>> all right. so there's going to be more than 100 million people watching and prepping to watch the super bowl . one player busy responding to these public crisis that he's had after giving a response to a shock jock . the 49ers' chris culliver first went on record saying he would not accept an openly gay teammate. the team rejected culver's comments. finally yesterday, culver explaining why he said what he said, and it doesn't reflect what he thought.

    >> i don't have no differences in other sexualities. and, you know, just like that. and that's -- like i said, what i feel in my heart. and i treat everyone equal in any type of way, so -- it's not how i feel.

    >> some epic back pedaling there. the topic of the upcoming episode of usa's necessary roughness where a football player comes out on his a football player comes out on his professional team. joining me is former nfl quarterback player wade davis . first off, let's get you on the record. your reaction to culliver's comments and his apology tour.

    >> i was very hurt by it. actually, i had two different thoughts. i thought, wow, this is going to help us have this conversation during the biggest game of the year, but then i also thought that, wow, there's a lot of players who are closet in the nfl that are going to go deeper into the closet because of these comments.

    >> one thing you've said in past interviews is you think the real issue is that the idea that a gay man could play sports is an attack to a straight guy's masculinity. what do you mean by that?

    >> i think that there's a narrative out there that if you are gay and you can play a sport well, then what does that say about straight men because i think that people grow up with the notion that if you are gay, then you're soft or, as chris said, then you're sweet. you know, the fact that a gay man can play a sport better than some straight men is an attack against their own ideas of masculinity.

    >> is the burden solely on a player that is currently in pro sports to come out to help change and really break through the homophobia that still exists in pro sports ? we're seeing it front and center. we have one athlete, you know, brendan from the ravens going and teaing the marriage equality to talk about that as his platform, and then we have comments from chris culliver of the 49ers.

    >> i think the initial responsibility is on straight players. it should be much easier for straight allies to come up and say i'm against homophobia and to create an environment where a gay player feels safe about it. i think the great thing about "the necessary roughness " show is they show the need tore an actual ally. i think that if allies come out and say, you know what, i'm against homophobia, i welcome a gay teammate first, it will be easier for someone who is gay to come out.

    >> is race an indicator and a problem in the african-american community, in sports because, as we see, you know, none of that sweet stuff ? we saw that from chris culliver. with the president coming out with marriage equality and churches coming out for marriage equality and backing it, do you think that will help infiltrate too where the president's viewpoints are framed from?

    >> i think it crosses all race lines, and i think homophobia does too. i don't think that there are certain races who may be more or less homophobic. i think that it's all about education and having these thoughtful conversations about what it means to be an lgbtq person.

    >> if you had to do it all over again, would you come out while you were actively playing? do you regret that you didn't?

    >> i don't think i was ready to come out. i think that i had a lot of self-hatred, and i think that if i had morale lies to be in my corner, then, yes.

    >> well, wade, it's good to have you here and nice to meet you.

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