SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Dre' Bly took coach Mike Singletary's usual spot at the podium in a team meeting room and apologized. Profusely. Singletary watched the whole thing.
The veteran cornerback embarrassed himself and the San Francisco 49ers during Sunday's 45-10 home loss to the Atlanta Falcons when he intercepted a Matt Ryan pass in the third quarter and struck a Deion Sanders-like pose with his right hand to his helmet and the ball unprotected in his left. Problem was, Pro Bowl wide receiver Roddy White was there to knock the ball loose and Atlanta, leading 35-10 at the time, recovered it. The Falcons marched downfield and quickly scored again.
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Bly said he approached Singletary on Monday morning to apologize for the display, which also included him saying after the game that he'd done nothing wrong because "Dre's going to be Dre'." He said he has always had his antics after making plays, so why change now?
"I want to publicly apologize for yesterday," Bly said Monday. "My comments were totally inappropriate. I apologized to Coach. I'm not a selfish guy. I didn't mean to embarrass him if I did, embarrass my team, embarrass the ownership, embarrass the fans. I'm a prideful guy. I like to have fun. I got caught up in the moment, and it was wrong."
Singletary said he wouldn't discipline Bly, an 11-year NFL veteran and two-time Pro Bowler in his first season with San Francisco, because he didn't see the cornerback's stunt live and would have opted to deal with it then but not one day later. In Singletary's debut taking over for the fired Mike Nolan last October, the coach sent tight end Vernon Davis to the showers in the fourth quarter for his behavior following a personal-foul penalty.
Singletary said that Bly's approaching him went a long way to mend the situation. The coach was planning to meet with Bly anyway before the cornerback made it happen first.
"To me, it's done," Singletary said.
What made Bly's mistake more glaring was that it came during the 49ers' worst home loss in 42 years since a game at Kezar Stadium in 1967 -- and their worst ever at Candlestick Park.
Bly was set to address his teammates later Monday.
"Dre' is going to apologize to everybody in the building practically," Singletary said.
His teammates hadn't lost faith in Bly, who was ready for a fresh start after facing his share of criticism last season with the Denver Broncos. He made two interceptions in 2008, matching the lowest total of his career -- the first time he was held to two since his fourth NFL season with the St. Louis Rams in 2002.
"He's a high-character guy," 49ers quarterback Shaun Hill said. "We have a lot of high-character guys in this locker room. People stand up for their mistakes. That's a good thing. Just guys being accountable. It's not something I expect somebody to do (apologize to the team). It speaks to the character he has."
Bly insists his style is to have fun and exhibit energy -- though this sure looked like showboating.
"Normally, when I've intercepted passes like that, in between me and the end zone, I've scored," Bly said. "And that's what I was thinking. As a defensive back, me being who I've been my whole life, that's the energy I bring to the field. My comment saying, 'Dre's going to be Dre,' was meaning I'm going to have fun. You know, when I play the game, I play with enthusiasm, I play with excitement. I like to try to be that guy that's getting the fans motivated. That's who I've always been."
Singletary said that will have to change for Bly. At least, he must keep himself in check if he wants to play at all.
"I'll put it this way: I don't think that's fun. OK?" Singletary said. "It was not fun at 35-10. Fun is when you're ahead and you may get an interception, and hey, that's great. That's fun. But you're not having fun when you're behind 35-10, and that's a little something that he and I have to clean up."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press