It was a long, nightmarish Super Bowl experience all around for former South Carolina defensive back Chris Culliver.
He stepped into controversy early in the week and repeatedly was targeted by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in Baltimore’s 34-31 Super Bowl victory over Culliver’s San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night in New Orleans.
“They targeted Chris a few times and got a few plays on him,” 49ers teammate Donte Whitner told the San Francisco Chronicle. “But he’s a young guy, very athletic. He’ll learn from this and come back.”
Super Bowl week started with Culliver’s Media Day response to “shock jock” Artie Lange, who asked a series of offbeat questions about womanizing at the Super Bowl and what it might be like to have gay teammates. Culliver got immediate negative attention nationally when he said he wouldn’t accept a gay teammate. He made other anti-gay remarks.
The 49ers and Culliver quickly apologized. Culliver said he plans to enter a “sensitivity training” program.
“I treat everyone equal,” Culliver said.
The NFL said it might limit access to Media Day to those journalists who actually cover football.
Media types and fans blasted Culliver on Twitter throughout the game.
“Dear Chris Culliver: It Gets Better,” Yahoo sports columnist Dan Wetzel tweeted after Culliver was beaten on a 56-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones.
From @smartfootball: “Why did Culliver go up to talk junk to the punter? Just stupid”
From @SI_peterking: “Nice night for Culliver”
And from @jimrome: “You know who’s not welcome in the Niner locker room? Culliver. Because he’s terrible.”
Culliver, a second-year pro from Garner, N.C., didn’t seem apologetic.
“I didn’t care,” he said of Baltimore going after him. “How many pass breakups did I have? I didn’t expect anything different.”
Culliver complained to officials after Torrey Smith caught a pass on a play that might have been negated by an offensive interference call.
“Sometimes, the referees see what they want to see,” Culliver said. “A lot of these referees are biased and have a big impact on the game.”
San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis admitted after the game that the Super Bowl was not Culliver’s best performance.
“Cully is competitive, and he wants to win on every play,” Willis told reporters. “(Sunday night) he had a tough one, and I stand behind him and I know what kind of player he is. This is only going to fuel him to make it better.”
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.