An early Super Bowl scoreboard
Posted February 1, 2013
Super Bowl XLVII isn't until Sunday, yet we have a score.
Chris Culliver 1, Ray Lewis 0.
In spite of Culliver's vulgar remarks about homosexuals not being welcome in the 49ers' locker room, he handled the aftermath with far more class than Lewis did when asked about deer antler spray or what happened in Atlanta 13 years ago.
Everyone says – or does – something they regret, even something that creates an entire days worth of work for the assembled media. (Yes, I'm talking about you, Mr. Culliver.) However, it's how you handle the fallout that tells the complete story.
During the three ring media day circus Tuesday, Ray Lewis was asked about the recent Sports Illustrated article that accused him of using something called Deer Antler Spray, which contains a substance on the NFL's list of banned performance enhancing agents.
He was also questioned about his role in the murder of two young men in Atlanta the week of Super Bowl 34. Not surprisingly, Lewis didn't want to address those topics, and I can't say that I blame him. But, "nobody in this room is qualified to ask those questions" is a ridiculous and demeaning way of avoiding the topic.
By that token, Ray, since very few in the football media have ever played the game, are they not qualified to ask you about your Hall of Fame career? Are we also unqualified to talk with you about your very impressive foundation that does so much for underprivileged inner-city Baltimore families?
Then Ray hit us with the final blow, the undefeated reasoning for avoiding uncomfortable conversations: "This is God's time."
Yep, no one wants to infringe on that, for sure. But, what if God is wondering about the deer antler extract that has allegedly helped you return from a torn triceps to chase down your second world championship? What if He wants to know if you broke the league's rules by taking a performance-enhancing substance? What if the Heaven Daily Planet is doing a story on your impressive career, since this is your walk-off season, and they want to talk about the impressive, personal turnaround from that tragic night in Atlanta to the man you've become?
It was God's time 13 years ago, as well, I'm guessing.
The bottom line is that Tuesday was precisely the time to address what happened at that Super Bowl, if only to say how much you've grown from the experience or how it taught you to make better choices or how sorry you are that you were connected to an event that cost two young people their lives. Hiding behind the facade of faith to avoid answering those questions and then accusing them of being the "Devil's trick" doesn't fly.
Meanwhile, in contrast, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver, a Garner, NC native, really stuck his foot in it during an ill-advised interview with former Howard Stern joke man Artie Lange. Culliver, talking about the possibility of playing alongside a homosexual teammate said, "I don't do the gay guys, man. No, we don't got no gay people on the team…can't be with that sweet stuff. Can't be in the locker room, man."
In a week where anything other than football is going to suck up all the attention, Culliver provided the ultimate sponge. Those comments were all anyone talked about Wednesday and Thursday, and because every player has media responsibilities every day during Super Bowl week, Culliver was going to face that music once the entire story hit the fan. Well, the band started to play during yesterday's session, and considering that Culliver plays his home games in San Francisco, he had a lot of explaining to do.
"I'm sorry that I offended anyone. They were very ugly comments, and that's not what I feel in my heart," he said. "Hopefully, I can learn and grow from this experience. I love San Francisco."
Culliver then proceeded to answer 100 questions in 45 minutes, all about his incendiary remarks. Culliver didn't try to tell the press that this wasn't the time for those questions. He didn't tell them that they weren't qualified to ask those questions and I'm fairly certain that Out Magazine isn't among the nearly 5,000 members of the credentialed media. Culliver took his medicine like a grown man, dealt with the fallout and put the subject to bed.
While I hate that Culliver even uttered those remarks, mainly because I believe that there is more than just a trace of truth in what he said, I will give him a ton of credit for dealing with the crush and emerging on the other side – hopefully a better person. In sharp contrast to the man of the hour here at Super Bowl 47, the retiring future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, that gives the second year reserve defensive back the early lead.
I tell my son all the time, it's not always what you do wrong that gets you in trouble, but how you respond to the situation. In that game, Culliver clearly defeated his far more experienced opponent.