I am a fan of Chris Culliver. He is young and is loaded with talent. Until Super Bowl week, I only saw him as a football player. I was never required to evaluate him on any other level. None of us had to contemplate his morality or decision-making off the field.
Then, came the controversy. Fans were then hit with Culliver's anti-gay statements. While altogether insensitive and asinine, especially during Super Bowl week, I tried my very best to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. I mean, we had a football game to play. Plus, he pledged to "learn and grow." Who wouldn't want to believe that? He issued an apology, did his "sensitivity training" and the work with The Trevor Project. We all moved on.
So, why Chris? Why the misogynistic comments on your Instagram?
By my own admission, I am colloquially-challenged. But, these terms disparaging women are not new. We saw it with the Rutgers women's basketball team. These words evoke emotion and anger. He should know this, shouldn't he?
After I saw the snap-shot of Chris Culliver's Instagram photo, I immediately saw tweets (e.g., "get rid of him" and "he's a cancer to our team") on my Twitter feed. Why didn't it offend me the same way? Sure, I raised my eyebrows and rolled my eyes, but clearly his remarks were the last straw for some fans. So, a week before the draft, it begs the question: why?
Michelle Vogel Trautt, MA, a psychology professor in San Diego County, gave me some insight. She indicated Culliver could simply be insensitive or lazy when thinking about possible ramifications, but stated his comments were most likely cultural in nature. That is, he comes from a community that believes misogynistic speech is appropriate. Many believe culture led Michael Vick to dog-fighting, because it was accepted in his life.
Of all cities, however, Chris Culliver plays in San Francisco. It is among the more progressive cities in the nation. Culliver is displaced into an unfamiliar culture with completely different standards. And, he's quickly isolating some 49ers fans.
If Cully in fact wrote those words and posted them on display, fans can't take it too personal. We do not know the entire psychological story. Chris Culliver has a lot to offer the San Francisco 49ers. And, fortunately, the San Francisco community has a lot to offer him. If he's willing, it can be another teaching moment for him. Our community has an opportunity to share real perspective, something he desperately needs. It can be mutually beneficial.