The San Francisco 49ers’ Chris Culliver was detained last Friday after allegedly hitting a bicyclist and then attempting to flee the scene. Arrested for multiple charges including hit and run, the cornerback is adding to a list of off the field issues and now faces serious criminal charges.
According to San Jose police, around 10 pm Culliver’s Ford Mustang struck a bicyclist and then hit a witnesses’ vehicle while leaving the area. The witness followed Culliver and boxed him in until police arrived. The bicyclist suffered minor injuries.
Culliver was charged with three felonies: hit and run, felony reckless driving, and felony possession of a pair of brass knuckles that police found in Culliver’s white and green Mustang. He also faces one misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended license. He posted bond, reported at $36,ooo dollars, and was released early the next morning.
Over the weekend the team released a statement about the incident. “We will remain in contact with Chris and the local authorities as we continue to gather the facts regarding this situation. As this is an ongoing legal matter, we will reserve further comment at this time.”
On the field, Culliver has had recent injury issues. Playing college football for the South Carolina Gamecocks, he missed his final seven games with a torn pectoral muscle and was taken in the 3rd round by San Francisco in the 2011 draft.
As a rookie he played in all 16 regular season games and started all games for the 49ers in 2012, including Super Bowl XLVII. In 2013, he tore his ACL in training camp and missed the entire season. After extensive rehabilitation, 2014 was to be his comeback year.
With a hit and run arrest and upcoming charges hanging over his head, the 49ers cornerback has added a troubling new chapter to his off the field woes that might end his career.
At Media Day, prior to the 2013 Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens, Culliver was asked about homosexuals playing in the NFL. He responded: “No. Ain’t got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff.”
His comments were immediately denounced by the team and caused a public backlash, including calls for Culliver’s suspension. He quickly apologized and released a statement saying his words did not reflect his true feelings. Culliver attended sensitivity training classes and later worked with LGBT groups in the Bay area.
A few months later, Culliver created another controversy when he sent an Instagram picture to his 30,000 followers showing a text conversation in which he talked about women in an offensive manner. Again the 49ers released a statement condemning the behavior and many others questioned why the player would intentionally post the remarks in public.
As of last month, Culliver seems to at least partially rehabilitated his image. He was given a humanitarian award from a local group for his work promoting animal welfare, and in an interview he said people did not understand who he was or what he was trying to do off the field.
Unfortunately, he may never be able to put his latest incident behind him. Culliver’s arrest for both hit and run and other felonies likely will require jail time, and with off the field problems adding up, the 49ers might have to cut their loses.
Commentary by Andrew Elfenbein
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andyelf