San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver has apologised for anti-gay comments he made to a comedian during Super Bowl media day.
Culliver said what he had said was "not what's in my heart" and he was "just kidding around".
He also apologised to the city of San Francisco and added he would welcome a gay teammate to the 49ers, a reversal of his remarks to comedian Artie Lange two days ago. San Francisco and the Bay Area are home to a large gay community.
During an interview on Tuesday at the Superdome, Culliver responded to questions from Lange by saying he wouldn't welcome a gay player in the locker room. He said the 49ers didn't have any gay players, and if they did those players should leave.
The 49ers had condemned Culliver's original comments. "The San Francisco 49ers reject the comments that were made, and have addressed the matter with Chris," the team said. "There is no place for discrimination within our organisation at any level. We have and always will proudly support the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] community."
Human Rights Campaign vice-president Fred Sainz had blasted Culliver and demanded an apology. "Culliver's comments represent the height of ignorance and the type of homophobic banter that professional athletes rarely use any more," said Sainz.
"Culliver's irrational rant ... is reprehensible. He should recognise how far most of his fellow athletes have come on this issue. San Francisco has the highest percentage of gays [15.4 per cent] of any city in the United States."