Paula Deen says she identifies with 'that black football player' openly gay Michael Sam

LOS ANGELES - Paula Deen says she relates to football player Michael Sam and his desire to avoid being labeled.

In an interview with People magazine , Deen was quoted saying "I feel like 'embattled' or 'disgraced' will always follow my name. It's like that black football player who recently came out. 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 told the magazine she understands his viewpoint and, in her case, worries the words "embattled" or "disgraced" always will be attached to her name.

The celebrity cook's fortunes fell last year after she admitted during proceedings in a lawsuit that she had used racial slurs in the past. As part of a comeback effort, she's launched a new company to oversee her restaurants and other ventures.

The 67-year-old Deen called it "amazing" that others face controversies such as hers and come out seemingly unaffected.

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