Paula Deen: I Know How ‘That Black Football Player’ Michael Sam Feels

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February 27, 2014 10:12 a.m.

Celebrity chef Paula Deen says that her effort to restore her public image after admitting to using racial slurs is just like Missouri football player Michael Sam’s historic coming out.

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“I feel like ‘embattled’ or ‘disgraced’ will always follow my name. It’s like that black football player who recently came out,” Deen told People Magazine in an interview hitting newsstands Friday, as quoted by The Wrap. “He said, ‘I just want to be known as a football player. I don’t want to be known as a gay football player.’ I know exactly what he’s saying.”

Deen was dropped from her Food Network program and several product deals last year after a videotaped deposition made her admission to casually using the N-word public. She’s since tearfully apologized for using “inappropriate, hurtful language.”

The celebrity chef also said her public fall from grace has made her feel “empathy” for others who have been vilified in the media, like “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson. Robertson was heavily criticized and temporarily suspended from his reality show for comments he made about gays and blacks in a GQ interview.

“It’s amazing that some people are given passes and some people are crucified,” Deen told People, as quoted by The Wrap. ”I have new empathy for these situations, though. My dad always told me, ‘Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.’”

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