FOXBOROUGH — No stranger to controversy, Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes is at the epicenter of a social media whirlwind over a homophobic joke he posted on Twitter.

Spikes, a third-year linebacker out of the University of Florida, posted a comment on his Twitter feed Wednesday afternoon which read: “I’m homophobic just like I’m arachnopobic. I have nothing against homosexuals or spiders but I’d still scream if I found one in my bathtub!’’

Although he meant it as a joke, Spikes backtracked when he was rebuked by several followers for his ill-advised attempt at humor. Three hours after posting his original comment, Spikes tried to clarify his intent by tweeting, “PEOPLE!!!! It’s a joke …seriously a JOKE!!! Chill out.’’

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Spikes seemed to be paraphrasing a monologue by British comedian Jack Whitehall, who said 18 months ago, “I’m not homophobic. Well, I suppose I’m homophobic in the same sense I’m arachnopobic. I’m not scared of spiders. I’m not scared of gays, but I would scream if I saw one in my bath.’’

According to Patriots spokesman Stacey James, “The team has no comment.”

Although Spikes was not available for comment in the Patriots’ locker room during media availability Thursday, his teammates were left to deal with the distraction.

“You know what? I haven’t seen anything, so I can’t really comment on it,’’ said wide receiver Wes Welker, who generated headlines himself this week for his ill-advised attempt at humor. After making 13 catches for 104 yards in Sunday’s 31-21 victory over the Broncos, Welker was asked during a TV interview about his performance and replied, offhandedly, “Sometimes it’s nice to stick it in Bill’s face,’’ in reference to coach Bill Belichick.

Welker, like many of his teammates, deflected repeated attempts for comment about Spikes’s tweet.

“I’m just concentrating on Seattle, so I really don’t have any comment at all about it,’’ Welker said.

When asked if he was a big tweeter, Welker replied, “Yeah, [but] I haven’t really tweeted in the past month or so, so I haven’t really looked at it at all. I’ve just been concentrating on the season.’’

Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork kept their attention on Sunday’s game at Seattle.

“That’s where all my focus is, on the Seattle Seahawks, so I have nothing to add to it,’’ Mayo said.

Said Wilfork, “If it don’t have nothing to do with Seattle, I don’t care about it — plain and simple. That’s my first time hearing about this. I’m too focused on playing football right now.’’

Asked if he was embarrassed by Spikes’s remarks, Wilfork, a defensive captain, replied, “If it has nothing to do with Seattle, then I don’t even know about it. I watch SpongeBob SquarePants, you can ask anybody. So I don’t have time to look at everything else being said [on Twitter], because that’s my life at home.’’

Spikes was embroiled in controversy during his rookie season for being in a pornographic video that was circulated on the Internet. Later that year, Spikes was suspended four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Spikes said in a statement the substance was neither “a performance enhancer or an illegal drug’’ but rather part of “a medication I should have gotten clarification before taking.’’

In college, Spikes was disciplined for attempting to gouge the eye of Georgia running back Washaun Ealey in top-ranked Florida’s 41-17 victory over the Bulldogs Oct. 31, 2009. Spikes was suspended for the first half of the Gators’ next game, but he effectively suspended himself for the entire game, saying he didn’t want to be a distraction to his team.