49ers’ ’It Gets Better’ Video Yanked After Players Deny Involvement
Controversy surrounding the San Francisco 49ers seems be widening just days before the team faces off against the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl.
The New Civil Rights Movement reports Dan Savage announced on Friday that the 49ers’ "It Gets Better" video has been removed after two members of the football team denied having involvement with the project, which aims to prevent bullying among LGBT students.
Linebacker Ahmad Brooks and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga have both participated in the 49ers’ "It Gets Better" video last summer; but now, the athletes are claiming they have nothing to do with the clip, USA Today reports.
The men told the publication that they didn’t know the video was geared toward anti-gay bullying for gay youth.
"This is America and if someone wants to be gay, they can be gay," Brooks told USA Today. "But I didn’t make any video." Later, after he was reportedly shown the video on an iPhone, the player clarified, "Oh, that. It was an anti-bullying video, not a gay [rights] video."
Sopoaga flat out denied having anything to do with the video even though a teammate apparently tried to help remind him.
"I never went," he said. "And now someone is using my name."
When Dan Savage, the founder of the "It Gets Better" campaign, caught wind of the players’ remarks, he took down the video from his website and tweeted, "We’ve removed the #49ers #ItGetsBetter video from our website" and hashtaged the tweet "#horseshit."
According to the New Civil Rights Movement, this may be the first time an "It Gets Better" clip has been taken off Savage’s website.
Brooks and Sopoaga’s remarks come days after Chris Culliver, the 49er’s cornerback, was caught in a media frenzy for making anti-gay remarks when he told radio host Artie Lang that he couldn’t accept an openly gay player on his team.
"I don’t do the gay guys man," said Culliver. "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."
Culliver made his controversial statements soon after it was reported that Kawame Harris, a former player for the California team, was charged with assault for attacking his ex-boyfriend and subsequently outed. After being put on blast from a number of media outlets and LGBT activists, Culliver backtracked and issued an apology.
"The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel," he said in a statement released by the 49ers. "It has taken me seeing them in print to realize that they are hurtful and ugly. 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."
Before Culliver apologized, however, other members of the 49ers told the media that they don’t share the same views as their teammate and could accept an out teammate.
"I don’t think so, not at all," Delanie Walker, a tight end who played with Harris for two seasons, said. "It probably wouldn’t affect me, but other guys might feel different. I wouldn’t assume that anybody who’s gay that played on the team. 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."
Brian Jennings, a longer snapper for the 49ers, echoed Walker’s sentiments and said, "We’re all there for the common purpose of winning football games. I don’t know if it mattered or if anyone was aware of his sexual orientation."
Harris even commented on the incident and said, "It’s surprising that in 2013 Chris Culliver would use his 15 minutes to spread vitriol and hate. I recognize that these are comments that he may come to regret and that he may come to see that gay people are not so different than straight people."
Brendon Ayanbadejo, a linebacker for the Ravens who has been a strong ally for the LGBT community, said he hopes Culliver learns from his mistake and that he will "grow to be a better person from it."
"I’ve preached since day one to my teammates that there’s certain words you can’t say. And when they’re around me they know -- if B.A.’s around, you can’t say ’gay’ in a derogatory manner, you can’t say the three-letter ’f’ word," Ayanbadejo told the Sacramento Bee. "And I tell them, I go, you can’t say those things. And if people hear you say those things, regardless if you mean them or not, they’re going to fry you. And if it’s in a public arena your whole reputation’s going to be roasted for it. So we’ve kind of seen it happen this time. So we just have to all learn from what happened, from this mistake. He apologized and hopefully he’ll learn."
A petition on Change.org has been launched and is urging officials from the NFL to send Culliver to spend a day with the New York Gay Football League. So far 688 people have signed the petition and 812 signatures are needed.
"This will give him an opportunity to see that openly gay players perform just as well as heterosexual players," the petition’s organizer, Christian Fuscarino, writes. "It will also allow him to ask questions and speak with members of the team."
Watch the 49ers’ "It Gets Better" video below: