The San Francisco 49ers have won five world championships with greats such as Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Bryant Young, Roger Craig, Keena Turner and so many more.
One thing these great players had in common is that they never ran afoul of the law or stumbled mightily with the media. The same cannot be said about Chris Culliver.
Culliver's insensitive comments regarding gays have been well chronicled, and he took a major public relations hit. However, he had been working very hard to clean up his image and it was working.
In addition to earning accolades for his changed behavior and work to support the LGBT community, Culliver also won an award for his work to prevent animal cruelty. A few weeks ago, Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News wrote about the change in Culliver.
In general, the public will forgive and be supportive as long as a player owns up to his mistakes, is contrite and works to correct his flaws. This is what Culliver was experiencing, but he has thrown all of that goodwill out the window.
Unfortunately, Culliver once again allowed his life to spin out of control and has now done irreparable harm to his reputation.
Last week, KTVU reported Culliver was involved in a hit-and-run accident, when he allegedly hit a bicyclist and fled the scene. That was bad enough, but then the story became even more bizarre.
A witness followed Culliver, and the cornerback allegedly emerged from his car with brass knuckles and threatened him. Culliver then got back into his car and tried to depart, only to hit the other man's vehicle.
Culliver is charged with felony hit-and-run for striking the bicyclist, a weapons charge, reckless driving and a second hit-and-run charge when he hit the other vehicle.
The 49ers are very thin at cornerback, having already lost two of their top ones, Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers, in the free-agent market, and Culliver was expected to be a starter at that position in 2014.
With six selections in the first three rounds of upcoming draft, it is imperative for the 49ers to get at least two good cornerbacks. If there are any free-agent cornerbacks still available that they like, the 49ers should also try to land one of them.
Culliver missed all of last season with a torn ACL but was expected to be a key player on the 49ers' defense, in the upcoming season.
The 49ers also stood by Aldon Smith when he had problems with the law, based on substance abuse issues this past season.
However, this is an entirely different situation and cannot be tolerated. Had Culliver simply accepted responsibility for the accident and stayed at the scene, none of this firestorm would be occurring. It would have simply been an accident.
After the investigation is completed, and if the facts show that Culliver did everything that was alleged, then he should be cut. Some things are bigger than football and this is one of them.
Culliver obviously does not think things through clearly, which is what got him into trouble the first time. As insensitive and stupid as his comments were, Culliver did nothing illegal in that instance.
That is not true in this current situation. His decision to flee, then threaten another person and flee again shows his total lack of maturity and inability to act like a civil adult. When under duress, Culliver was unable to make the right decision.
Should the 49ers release Chris Culliver?
The 49ers have built their franchise and had their best successes when class and quality individuals were the norm. Failing to hold to that high standard would be an insult to those great players of the past and to the fans of San Francisco.
Any true fan of the 49ers should not want to see Culliver representing their team. He needs to go and the sooner the better.