NEW ORLEANS -- CEO Jed York, whose 49ers organization has supported the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, expects Chris Culliver to be a man of his word.
Culliver pledged to "learn and grow" after he made homophobic comments this week on a national radio show's podcast during Media Day for Super Bowl XLVII. York said he felt a personal level of embarrassment and frustration when he learned of Culliver's comments.
"It's a combination of embarrassing but more frustrating because you have a young guy who has not been exposed to the greater LGBT community, wasn't something he grew up with," York said.
Culliver, 25, grew up in Garner, N.C., and attended South Carolina. He is in his second season with the 49ers. York called Culliver's comments "dumb and insensitive." And York said he will support Culliver if he is serious about learning more about the community he offended.
"And I can relate. I grew up in Youngstown, Ohio," said York, 31. "Youngstown, Ohio, is not the beacon for the LGBT community. So when you come to San Francisco, there's a sense of what San Francisco is and there's the reality. When you get there you understand the reality and you understand the LGBT community, they're like anybody else.
"But if you don't know that and you read negative things that are said and just untrue things that are said, you're not sure what the perception is. And I've had the fortunate opportunity to meet with a lot of the leaders and a lot of the people in the LGBT community, and that to me is what I hope comes out of this.
"I hope Chris will live up to his comments of wanting to expand his horizons, wanting to get to know the LGBT community, being truly sorry for it. And I think if that happens, you truly have something that could've been a negative, intolerant, hateful situation turn into . . . a football player that had an uninformed opinion and now he can grow in his sort of experience and be a beacon for everybody in the locker room for the 49ers, and hopefully throughout the NFL and show it's more than what your uniformed, juvenile opinion is of something. And that's what I want to push Chris to do."
York said he believes after the Super Bowl that Culliver will step up and follow through on his pledge to become more informed.
"He made a very bold statement," York said. "You can live up to that or if you don't, people are going to villify you, and probably rightfully so. I don't believe that's what Chris is going to do. I think he's going to step up and be a man about this, and understand he made a very dumb comment."
Coach Jim Harbaugh did not address the team on the subject, but he said he did speak with Culliver about his comments. Harbaugh declined to share the details of the conversation Thursday morning.
"But I do believe that there wasn't malice in his heart," Harbaugh said "He's not that kind of person. He's not an ugly person. He's not a discriminating person. He may have heard talk like that and may have thought that that was what his opinions were that he learned, but he regrets that.
"That's not who he is, that's not what he really believes in. I think it took this incident to hear those words being said by him and to see them written down on paper, for him to realize that they were hurtful and ugly. I know that he takes that to heart, and I really think this is something he'll learn and grow from."