In wake of 49ers cornerback/homophobe Chris Culliver’s controversial anti-gay comments earlier this week, one of the items brought up in the subsequent discourse was that the 49ers in August produced their own “It Gets Better” video (which of course made Culliver look all the more ignorant).
It Gets Better is a campaign aimed to prevent suicide among gay teens who are bullied by others because of their sexual orientation. The 49ers were the first NFL team to make a video (seen below) for the project. The four players who appeared in the team’s PSA were defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga, defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois, safety Donte Whitner and linebacker Ahmad Brooks.
Acknowledging the video’s relevance this week, USA Today’s Kevin Manahan hoped to speak with the players about it. But when he caught up with Sopoaga and Brooks, they didn’t know what he was talking about. Their answers, to say the least, are strange.
“I didn’t make any video,” Brooks said. “This is America and if someone wants to be gay, they can be gay. It’s their right. But I didn’t make any video.”
He was shown the video on an iPhone.
“Oh, that. It was an anti-bullying video, not a gay (rights) video,” he said.
When told that studies show that the majority of teens who are bullied are harassed over sexual identity issues, Brooks thought for a second.
“I know that. I know that,” he said. “Okay, you’re right and I’m wrong. Are you from one of those New York newspapers?”
Sopoaga, too, denied making the video, even while teammate Will Tukuafu, who overheard the question, tried to refresh his memory.
“Yeah, you made that video, remember?” Tukuafu said.
“No,” Sopoaga said. “I never went. And now someone is using my name.”
Sopoaga was shown the video.
“What was that for?” he asked.
To ask teens to stop bullying other teens because of sexual identity, he was told.
“Yeah, OK,” he said.
Would you like to comment on it, he was asked.
“No,” he said.
Weird, right? As Eric Branch of The Chronicle points out, Whitner is the only player who mentions the LGBT community on camera.
In response to this news, It Gets Better has reportedly removed the 49ers’ spot from its website.
It seems as if either the 49ers (assuming they took the lead in producing the video) weren’t straightforward with all the players about the video’s purpose or Sopoaga and Brooks simply overlooked to true intention of the video.
Either way, Brooks and Sopaga’s reactions to finding out they were part of a pro-gay PSA were less than graceful. It’ll be interesting to see if the Niners choose to comment on that and also why the players apparently were misled about the video’s message.
You know the team is double thinking its statement-issuing process after we all saw how well the last one went.
Here’s the 49ers’ It Gets Better video: