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49ers CB Culliver sorry for anti-gay comments

49ers CB Culliver sorry for anti-gay comments

NEW ORLEANS (AP) San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver apologized Wednesday night for anti-gay remarks he made during a Super Bowl media day interview a day earlier.

``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 team. ``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.''

The 49ers said earlier Wednesday they had addressed the comments, but didn't elaborate on whether the second-year player would face disciplinary action or a fine.

During an interview Tuesday at the Superdome, Culliver responded to questions from comedian Artie Lange by saying he wouldn't welcome a gay player in the locker room. He also said the 49ers didn't have any homosexual players and, if they did, those players should leave.

``The San Francisco 49ers reject the comments that were made yesterday, and have addressed the matter with Chris,'' the team said. ``There is no place for discrimination within our organization at any level. We have and always will proudly support the LGBT community.''

Culliver planned to formally address his remarks during a news conference during the 49ers' media availability Thursday morning, according to his personal public relations representative, Theodore Palmer.

The interview Tuesday began with Lange asking Culliver about his sexual plans with women during Super Bowl week. Lange followed up with a question about whether Culliver would consider pursuing a gay man.

``I don't do the gay guys, man. I don't do that,'' Culliver said during the 1-minute taped interview. ``Ain't got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff.''

Lange asked Culliver to reiterate his thoughts, to which the player said, ``It's true.'' He added he wouldn't welcome a gay teammate - no matter how talented.

``Nah. Can't be ... in the locker room, nah,'' he said. ``You've gotta come out 10 years later after that.''

The 24-year-old Culliver, a third-round draft pick in 2011 out of South Carolina, made 47 tackles with two interceptions and a forced fumble this season while starting six games for the NFC champion Niners (13-4-1).

He had his first career postseason interception in San Francisco's 28-24 win at Atlanta for the NFC title.

The 49ers participate in the NFL's ``It Gets Better'' anti-bullying campaign. The city of San Francisco and progressive, open-minded Bay Area are home to a large gay community.

Three organizations working for LGBT inclusion in sports - Athlete Ally, You Can Play, and GLAAD - reacted to Culliver's remarks and later acknowledged his apology.

``Chris Culliver's comments were disrespectful, discriminatory and dangerous, particularly for the young people who look up to him,'' said Athlete Ally Executive Director Hudson Taylor. ``His words underscore the importance of the athlete ally movement and the key role that professional athletes play in shaping an athletic climate that affirms and includes gay and lesbian players. Culliver's current views are as marginal as they are misguided. We're seeing more and more NFL players take a stand against homophobia in sports through our advocacy and we know that support at this level is only going to grow. It is becoming clear that discrimination is on the fringe and has absolutely no place in sports.''

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Canadiens halt Capitals' point streak at 13

Canadiens halt Capitals' point streak at 13

WASHINGTON -- You've got to lose sometime. The clock finally struck midnight on the Capitals' point streak on Friday as Washington fell 5-2 to the Montreal Canadiens. A sleepy first period gave way to an onslaught in the second where Montreal scored four of its five goals.

The loss was the Caps' first regulation loss since Oct. 14, ending a streak of 13 straight games with at least a point.

Here is how the Caps lost.

Ovechkin’s hit

Early in the second period, it would be fair to call this a lifeless game. The score was tied at 0 with neither team generating much in the way of offense. There were no real highlight plays, highlight, nothing. It was just...blah.

Alex Ovechkin changed that.

Just over four minutes into the second, Ovechkin obliterated Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin with a heavy hit.

Drouin was slow to get up and immediately headed to the locker room. Those type of hits can be momentum-changers, but it is not always the hitter that gets that momentum boost. In this case, it seemed to wake up Montreal and not the Caps.

About two minutes after the hit, Phillip Danault would score the first of four goals the Canadiens would score in the second period. All four goals came in a span of 8:20.

It's hard not to draw the connection between the hit and the immediate response from Montreal on the scoresheet.

Defensive zone turnovers

Defensive zone turnovers are very dangerous in hockey. When a team has possession of the puck and is trying to break out, players head down the ice ready to transition from defense to offense.

In the second period, the Caps and Canadiens were locked in a board battle off a faceoff in Washington's defensive zone. John Carlson kicked the puck up near the blue line and T.J. Oshie stepped in. It looked like he was going to get the puck out or at least that's what his four teammates thought. Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom were already out of the defensive zone and both while Carlson and Kempny began skating up after them. Tomas Tatar and Ben Chiarot continued battling for the puck on the boards and prevented Oshie from getting it out. The puck squirted away from the boards and Montreal took possession. The Caps thought they had the puck on the breakout, but the defense suddenly found itself out of position thanks to the turnover. Tomas Tatar passed to Danault who was all by his lonesome in front of the net and he made it 1-0.

It wasn’t just that one moment. Puck management was an issue all night long for the Caps and it cost them again about five minutes later.

Now down 2-0, the Caps shut down an offensive zone possession for Montreal and had taken away the puck. Lars Eller attempted a stretch pass from the defensive zone right up the middle, but Tatar batted the puck down with his stick and Nate Thompson picked up the puck right behind the blue line and took it right back in to continue the offensive pressure. Less than 20 seconds later, Jordan Weal backhanded a shot that hit off the post and bounced off Samsonov to barely trickle over the goal line.

Out of gas

Lengthy streaks can be exhausting for teams and it certainly looked through 40 minutes like the Caps were just out of gas.

Montreal played well, but each goal in the second seemed to take more of the wind out of Washington's sails until there wasn't much left in the second period.

Through the first 40 minutes, the Caps were being outshot 30-18 in shots on goal and 50-36 in total shot attempts. The team rallied somewhat in the third period with Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov each scoring to make things interesting, but there was not enough time or energy left for Washington to mount a real comeback.

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Karl-Anthony Towns gets technical foul for frustration with Mo Wagner

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Karl-Anthony Towns gets technical foul for frustration with Mo Wagner

Mo Wagner became the NBA's leader in charges drawn Friday night, and his activity during the first half helped him get under Karl-Anthony Towns' skin. 

After Wagner attempted to draw yet another charge on Towns, the Minnesota big man finished a layup on the drive and laid the ball in Wagner's lap when the foul went uncalled. 

Towns received the technical foul as the Wizards continued to play a strong first half against one of the better offenses in the league on the road. 

Towns has been on a mean streak this season. He got in an epic brawl with Joel Embiid earlier this season and got into it with Rudy Gay just a few nights ago. He's demonstrated that he's a player you can get to, and Wagner did just that early on. 

The Wizards' defense has seemingly responded to Wagner's activity, so we'll see if they can keep it up to supplement one of the league's best offensive units. 

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