Bullying | Football (American) | News | San Francisco | Sports

SF 49ers Brooks and Sopoanga At First Deny Participation, Then Say They Didn't Know 'It Gets Better' Video Was for Gay Kids

Another wrinkle in the discussion around San Francisco 49ers and gays unfolded yesterday as two players, linebacker Ahmad Brooks and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga, were being questioned by reporters about Chris Culliver's anti-gay remarks.

BrooksBecause Brooks and Sopoaga participated in the 49ers 'It Gets Better' video last year, reporters figured they would have an interesting perspective on the story, but a new controversy arose when Brooks and Sopoaga both denied participating in the video, and then, when they were shown it, said they never knew it had anything to do with gays, and then appeared to want to distance themselves from it.

USA Today:

At first, Brooks and Sopoaga, approached by USA TODAY Sports, denied being part of the project.

"I didn't make any video," Brooks said. "This is America and if someone wants to be gay, they can be gay. It's their right. But I didn't make any video."

When told USA TODAY Sports had seen the video and he was in it, Brooks replied, "I don't remember that. I think if I made a video, I'd remember it." He was shown the video on an iPhone.

"Oh, that. It was an anti-bullying video, not a gay (rights) video," he said.

SopoagaWhen told that studies show that the majority of teens who are bullied are harassed over sexual identity issues, Brooks thought for a second. "I know that. I know that," he said. "Okay, you're right and I'm wrong. Are you from one of those New York newspapers?"

Unfortunately, someone apparently forgot to deliver the message to the players that this was a video that supported gay rights.

Sopoaga, too, denied making the video, even while teammate Will Tukuafu, who overheard the question, tried to refresh his memory. "Yeah, you made that video, remember?" Tukuafu said.

"No," Sopoaga said. "I never went. And now someone is using my name." Sopoaga was shown the video. "What was that for?" he asked.

To ask teens to stop bullying other teens because of sexual identity, he was told.

"Yeah, OK," he said. Would you like to comment on it, he was asked. "No," he said.

Multiple players wanted to be in the video, USA Today adds, but only the most intimidating players were chosen.

Dan Savage tweeted last night: "We've removed the #49ers #ItGetsBetter video from our website. #homophobia #NFL #horsesh*t"

Watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. It's the team managements fault. I bet they just told them that they were making a run of the mill anti-bullying PSA. Okay, cool. Athletes do that all the time. I can totally believe that they didn't elaborate that "It Gets Better" targeted gay kids, and so these two guys went in and arbitrarily participated, not knowing that this was gonna be used for the gay community. I'm not mad at them.

    Posted by: Sabian | Feb 1, 2013 10:53:07 AM

  2. That the NFL is such a big deal makes me feel like I was born on the wrong planet! Why do we value the skill of being able to throw a football more than the many struggling artist and musicians? Also while I know very little about football, I do know that most of the players are NOT from SF, they were just hired from wherever to play for them.

    Posted by: Tom in Long Beach | Feb 1, 2013 11:10:39 AM

  3. Looking at this at first blush, I cannot blame the players as they may have not been told the the video that they were making was part of a campaign against anti-gay bullying.

    Which doesn't necessarily mean that they, themselves, are antigay (although I might infer that) but that they did some sort of PSA under false pretense.
    For either of those reasons, I don't mind that Savage yanked the video.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Feb 1, 2013 11:12:39 AM

  4. I don't think the 49ers organization wouldn't be upfront about what the video was about. Dante Whitner, another 49ers player, knew what the video was about when asked about it. He knew it was about LGBTQ bullying.

    My problem is that even if they didn't know...........why react so DEFENSIVELY about it like what you did was something shameful? Or something to not be proud of? Instead of embracing what they did, they distanced themselves from the video. That says enough about their attitudes towards homosexuality.

    Posted by: Francis | Feb 1, 2013 11:14:32 AM

  5. Just more proof that these IGB videos are just a crock of meaningless bullsh*t. Nothing but self-serving publicity vehicles, for Dan Savage and everybody else who makes them.

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Feb 1, 2013 11:45:10 AM

  6. @Francis

    Ture enough, that's why I said that you could probably infer that.

    But if management misrepresented something this to me (and management does stuff like this all of the time) then I would be a bit pissed about it.

    Considering that he's been under fire for his own antigay behavior, someone needs to ask 49ers coach Jim harbaugh about this.

    Posted by: Chitown kev | Feb 1, 2013 12:17:33 PM

  7. It's possible that these two guys really didn't know that the "It Gets Better" PSA was primarily for encouragement to LGBT youth. What's bothersome is their defensiveness when shown that they did participate. Homophobia runs deep in the NFL and it is very much ingrained in these two guys' minds. How does one change such attitudes? It is very exasperating. Maybe these are the people who can never have their minds changed. Sad.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Feb 1, 2013 1:37:29 PM

  8. Ahmed Brooks wasn't wrong. "It Gets Better" IS primarily an anti-bullying campaign. Of course it is targeted at gay kids getting bullied, but that is something you can still get behind whether you are pro or anti gay. They were probably told it was an anti-bullying video and any quick search of other videos like it have no mention of anything gay in them. If I wasn't gay or on these kinds of gay blog sites or maybe if I wasn't on the internet all that much, I'd have no idea what "It Gets Better" is all about either.

    Posted by: Richard Harney | Feb 1, 2013 2:14:41 PM

  9. "
    Ahmed Brooks wasn't wrong. "It Gets Better" IS primarily an anti-bullying campaign. Of course it is targeted at gay kids getting bullied, but that is something you can still get behind whether you are pro or anti gay. They were probably told it was an anti-bullying video and any quick search of other videos like it have no mention of anything gay in them. If I wasn't gay or on these kinds of gay blog sites or maybe if I wasn't on the internet all that much, I'd have no idea what "It Gets Better" is all about either."

    These are my thoughts as well.

    Posted by: Kahoko | Feb 1, 2013 2:42:27 PM

  10. I've never understood the criticisms of the It Gets Better campaign.

    Nobody ever said it was the only solution. It was one way, of many, to reach LGBT youth and their peers and family all over the world, via the web.

    Anyone and everyone can make a video, wherein they share their own specific messages and their own directions and suggestions to empower others and find strength and hope.

    Why not make your own video and share a message you feel is not being shared? Oh, right. Because it's easier to do nothing at all and complain about what others are doing.

    Well, these two players are clearly complete f***ing idiots.

    Thank goodness for the wonderful men and women, LGBT or plain'ol-heterosexual, who have the integrity and grace to put a face and name to a worldwide, and utterly FREE, campaign to aid and empower LGBT Youth.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Feb 1, 2013 3:34:58 PM

  11. I said last year when this video was posted that this is lip service. On Compete magazine's website my comment was deleted. If the NFL was a gay utopia then gay players would be out and at ease with their sexuality. That's not the case because it's a hostile place for them.

    Posted by: Billy Crytical | Feb 1, 2013 5:53:32 PM

  12. 49ers: IT GETS WORSE!

    Posted by: Peter M. | Feb 1, 2013 6:00:18 PM

  13. As a 14 year old who struggles with anti gay bullying, hearing this story makes me so sad. They could have easily just said whatever, I did it and I support gay teens and all teens but they got defensive. why can't we get past homophobia? Why is me liking the same gender such a big deal fr people? :/

    Posted by: Jimmy | Feb 1, 2013 7:40:57 PM

  14. The 49er players actually have a history of homophobia in years past too. I'd actually go as far as saying, as far as the players are concerned, San Francisco 49ers has some of the most recorded incidents of homophobia more so than any othe team that comes to mind. Something needs to be done and it's going to take the city and residents and fans to encourage a mental shift. The LGBT community has supported this team for farrr too long to consistently be disrespected like this.

    Posted by: USC Trojans Fan | Feb 1, 2013 7:45:36 PM

  15. There is soooo much homophobia and bigotry coming out of these two 49ers recent stories that my stomach turns. Disgusting. The entire team needs a wake up call.

    Posted by: Duration & Convexity | Feb 1, 2013 7:46:41 PM

  16. There's a consistent pattern here that seems to suggest everything the SF niners do for LGBT is fake and not genuine, and behind the PR tactics, there's a whole bunch of disdain for gay people.

    Posted by: Scott Medona | Feb 1, 2013 7:48:17 PM

  17. This is horrible. It's one thing to be defensive about an adult gay player, but to get defensive about having supported out bullied and DEAD gay youth? Shame on these players, shame on this organization and shame on homophobia. This is one of the more disappointing stories I've read in a while and proof that there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of challenging homophobia. Let's start with the NFL.

    Posted by: Boston Dude | Feb 1, 2013 7:50:33 PM

  18. The point is not if they knew it was an anti gay bullying PSA. It's that they got defensive when they found out it was. Same people defending them would be LIVID if they made the same remarks about not knowing the PSA they made about anti black bullying was for black kids. I guess for some people, homophobia is acceptable. For our community, it's not and we'll stand up and speak up when we sense it. And especially when it involves carelessness for our gay youth. Period.

    Posted by: Miles | Feb 1, 2013 8:03:44 PM

  19. @ Chi Town Kev
    if managment misrepresented a campaign about protecting black youth, then you were to come and find out you supported that unknowingly, I would hope you'd still be okay with that and not get hostile over realizing it. If you would- then your open for criticism as are these men. We're talking about bullied gay kids. Not supporting the holocaust. If you get angry at supporting them, then you're exactly the reason why bullying exists.

    Posted by: TX Idol | Feb 1, 2013 8:07:47 PM

  20. MORONS

    Posted by: fanboi | Feb 1, 2013 8:33:02 PM

  21. Go RAVENS!

    Posted by: Chuck | Feb 1, 2013 9:21:45 PM

  22. @Jimmy (and others): please don't feel bad about it. These guys are professional football players and aren't necessarily good at anything else. To get into the superbowl, they have to spend a lot of time training, practicing, having their diets monitored for optimal results, etc. What probably is going on is that, every so often, they are asked to make a PR statement in front of a camera, are simply told what to say, and their managers try to fit it into their schedules with as little disruption as possible. It isn't surprising that they wouldn't remember a specific one without some clues to jog their memories.

    If you look at the video, it ends with the phrase "It gets better," but with a different guy saying each word. 5 will get you 10 that someone off camera held up a cue card with the one word the football player was supposed to say, so he wouldn't get confused. It's not like these guys are Shakespearean actors adept at reciting Hamlet's Soliloquy.

    There are a lot of precedents for that sort of thing. In the musical My Fair Lady, for example, the songs that Rex Harrison sang used a very restricted number of notes - he was a good actor but not really a singer, so the composer wrote the music around his musical limitations. In one opera, the Italian composer Rossini wrote a part for a singer consisting of a single note: (according to legend) after listening to her, he decided that she could only manage that one note without sounding terrible.

    Posted by: Bill | Feb 1, 2013 11:16:34 PM

  23. This is uh-merka, If someone wants to be gay they can"...I'm so sick of assholes thinking that people WANT to be gay, like wanting to be Hawaiin when you are a white guy from Iowa or wanting to have blue eyes instead of brown..you don't WANT you just ARE! When are ignorant people going to be taught enmass that we don't choose to be homosensational?

    Posted by: John | Feb 1, 2013 11:37:58 PM

  24. As a famous Warner Bros. rabbit said "What a maroon!"

    Posted by: Kenny C | Feb 2, 2013 1:16:32 AM

  25. @Miles: Maybe it is not so surprising that they got defensive if they were having some trouble remembering which of a number of PSAs this was, They might have thought they were about to get in trouble much as Culliver did and were afraid of making things worse. One player didn't think he made any videos at all - maybe he thought of videos as being interviews, not PSAs.

    Posted by: Bill | Feb 2, 2013 1:34:10 AM

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