SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Garrison Hearst made an emotional apology Friday for using a slur and saying he wouldn't want a gay player as a teammate with the San Francisco 49ers.
Appearing visibly shaken by the controversy caused by his pointed remarks to the Fresno Bee three weeks earlier, the 49ers' Pro Bowl running back made a short statement at the team's training complex.
"Being an African American, I know that discrimination is wrong," Hearst said. "I was wrong for saying what I said about anybody, any race or any religion. I want to apologize to the San Francisco 49ers organization, (to) the city of San Francisco for the comments that I made, and also to my teammates for bringing this distraction upon us."
Hearst's remarks on the NFL's latest hot-button issue stirred widespread condemnation -- particularly in the San Francisco Bay area's large and vocal gay community.
"If the team was someplace from the deep South, you might not be quite as surprised. But in San Francisco, this guy ought to know better," said Lorri L. Jean, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "He wasn't the first in line when they handed out sensitivity and, clearly, he wasn't the first in line when they handed out smarts."
Jean said Hearst's attempt to apologize was weak, and said the NFL should take a stand against such discrimination.
"I am sure that although Garrison Hearst doesn't know it, he already is playing with gay players in the NFL," she said. "His apology is too little, too late."
Several team officials condemned Hearst's remarks, but coach Steve Mariucci said the running back won't be fined or disciplined by the 49ers. Mariucci also apologized for not addressing the issue sooner.
John York, who owns the 49ers along with his wife, Denise DeBartolo York, issued a statement strongly condemning Hearst's remarks.
Panthers receiver jailed for attack on teammate
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith was jailed and charged with misdemeanor assault Friday after attacking a teammate earlier this week.
Anthony Bright, a practice-squad player, had a broken nose and was hospitalized for two nights following the fight, which occurred during film session on Monday. Bright filed a report with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police following his release from the hospital.
The Panthers already suspended Smith for Sunday's home game against Atlanta.
-- From wire reports