How Chris Culliver Became the Most Obnoxious Player in the NFL
USA TODAY Sports
Chris Culliver's obnoxiousness is becoming a major problem for the San Francisco 49ers.
Culliver on Tuesday said he thought he had help from safety Donte Whitner. Culliver was on the outside matched against Jones. Whitner was to his inside, and when [Ravens quarterback Joe] Flacco dropped back, he stepped up to help cover the inside receiver, Anquan Boldin. Should Whitner have gone deep with Jones instead up stepping up on Boldin, Culliver was asked?
"Yeah," he said. "Like I said, I don't want to throw nobody under the bus. But I had him and we wasn't on the same page, so it ends up as a touchdown."
Whitner then stated:
"No. No. People don't know," he said. "It's something we call 'pounder' where we're playing man-under (coverage) in a form of quarters where I'm on No. 2 (receiver). Anything that No. 2 does, I'm over him. Then we're playing man to man outside. Our corners did a great job all year of playing this coverage. And it just caught him (Culliver). It just caught him. I don't know."
"Chris is man to man, that was his guy.
Here, Culliver is dodging the notion that he blew the coverage and evidently, was not the defender who gave up the score.
"I don't care if they was targeting me or not," he said. "They weren't getting open except for the deep players."
And also: "How many pass breakups did I have?"
And also: "They made their plays, we made ours. You can't stop everything."
It would be a positive outcome for us," he said, "but not every game is going to go our way."
Regarding the first statement, a defensive back's primary responsibility is not allowing the deep ball. It's the front seven's duty to apply quarterback pressure, stuff the run defend against quick, inside passes.
Let's breakdown Cullivers versus Jones in the Super Bowl.
For as far back as Culliver sits, he need to be a bit deeper pre-snap. It's 3rd-and-10 just before the half, so there's no reason for him to get beat.
He's obviously not respecting Jones' speed enough, which already exposes the coverage breakdown.
Also, notice safety Donte Whitner slightly rolled down compared to Dashon Goldson.
(Note, screen-caps are courtesy of NFL.com Game Rewind.)
Whitner is moving up to play his responsibility, and Jones just bolts passed Culliver. Given that it's a critical game situation, only allowing a first down would not have been a bad thing.
The line to gain was San Francisco's 46-yard line and there's under two minutes left until halftime.
Instead, Culliver's pre-snap depth immediately comes back to bite. Jones scores and Baltimore extends its lead to 21-3.
As for his pass breakups, that's irrelevant considering how many big plays Culliver gave up. And he's right, it's impossible for a defense to stop everything, but holding oneself accountable allows for easier in-game adjustments.
The final comment doesn't make sense, because losing the biggest game and giving up 34 points in the process is not a positive result. Prior to kickoff in early February against the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco's defenses in its previous five Super Bowl appearances allowed a combined 89 points.
That's an average of merely 17.8 points per Super Bowl appearance.
Not to mention the 49ers faced eventual Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Dan Marino and John Elway in two of those Super Bowls. Here, Culliver and Co. gave up basically double that average and the big plays cost San Francisco a sixth title.
In short, this traces back to accountability.
Leading up to the Super Bowl, however, is where Culliver got himself into a critical situation with offensive comments.
According to Martin Rogers of Yahoo! Sports:
Shock jock Artie Lange revealed he had interviewed Culliver at media day Tuesday and aired a segment on his show that night, where the player insisted that any gay players would not be welcome on the team.
"I don't do the gay guys man," said Culliver, whose Niners play the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. "I don't do that. No, we don't got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do.
"Can't be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can't be…in the locker room man. Nah."
Obviously Culliver wasn't aware of the day and age in which we live. There's absolutely no excuse for discriminating against anyone, it's simply taken much greater emphasis during the 21st century.
Plus, as a professional athlete, Culliver must become extensively more cautious when approached about any sensitive subject. Athletes are expected to be role models and a positive influence to society, so even the most minuscule of offensive comments will get astronomically enhanced.
Even worse, this occurred before the Super Bowl.
The audience for the Super Bowl is significantly greater than any other sporting event, which makes those competing more vulnerable and subject to scrutiny should questionable comments be said—whether joking or not.
It's America's single most popular game in the country's favorite sport, and Culliver's ineptitude got the best of him.
Fortunately, he did apologize for the comments thereafter, per Chris Wesseling of NFL.com:
The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel," Culliver said in a statement released by the 49ers on Wednesday night. "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.
Culliver is also attending sensitivity training, according to the Associated Press via ESPN.com:
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver will begin sensitivity training and education immediately after the Super Bowl following his anti-gay remarks this week, then likely start volunteer work with at-risk homosexual youth nationwide.
For Culliver's sake, we can only hope he learns from this entire experience on and off the field.
He did enjoy a solid 2012 campaign with 14 defended passes, two picks, 47 tackles and two forced fumbles. Plus, Culliver made 13 tackles in the postseason and recorded a key interception against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
At the same time, San Francisco did give up some huge plays to Julio Jones from Matt Ryan and Baltimore simply echoed that in the Super Bowl.
No matter his talent as a player, though, Culliver must develop better as a teammate and person.
When we look back at a player's career, regardless of sport, the greater impact is how they acted as people. Without question, success in the sport and the way one performs hold an important amount of significance.
How do you feel about Chris Culliver?
But when an obnoxious attitude and disregard for accountability takes the forefront, that's what fans will remember most.
When anyone thinks of polarizing and controversial big name players such as Terrell Owens, Tim Tebow or Michael Vick, it's their approach toward teammates, the media, fans and life in general that's initially thought.
Whether some are better than others isn't the issue.
It's that the two worlds of performance within sports and off the field influence collide.
Culliver entered this realm with his comments regarding homosexuality, the performance in the Super Bowl and the subsequent comments after. The next challenge is immediately fixing that image, or he won't be remembered the way a professional athlete should.
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