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Paula Deen feels like 'that black,' gay football player

By Breeanna Hare, CNN
February 27, 2014 -- Updated 2151 GMT (0551 HKT)
Southern TV personality and chef Paula Deen is the author of 14 cookbooks, runs a bi-monthly magazine and is the owner of Savannah restaurant The Lady and Sons. Here she attends the 2010 CMT Music Awards at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Southern TV personality and chef Paula Deen is the author of 14 cookbooks, runs a bi-monthly magazine and is the owner of Savannah restaurant The Lady and Sons. Here she attends the 2010 CMT Music Awards at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
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Southern TV chef Paula Deen
Southern TV chef Paula Deen
Southern TV chef Paula Deen
Southern TV chef Paula Deen
Southern TV chef Paula Deen
Southern TV chef Paula Deen
Southern TV chef Paula Deen
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Paula Deen is on the cover of the new issue of People magazine
  • She talks about the controversy she faced over using the "N" word in the past
  • She describes how she's now trying to get her career and her name back
  • Deen: I feel like "embattled" or "disgraced" will always follow my name

(CNN) -- Paula Deen might be on track to issue another apology.

After her career in food imploded last year when she admitted to previously using a racial slur, the 67-year-old celebrity chef is trying to slowly rebuild what she's lost.

However, her recent cover story with People magazine is having the opposite effect.

In the article, Deen says she is finding inspiration in what might seem an unusual place given her past troubles.

"I feel like 'embattled' or 'disgraced' will always follow my name," she tells People. "It's like that black football player who recently came out," referring to NFL prospect and former University of Missouri football standout, Michael Sam.

"He (Sam) 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."

Given that the former doyenne of Southern cuisine has acknowledged in a deposition that she'd used the "N" word in the past, several observers were thrown by her choice of words.

"Seriously Paula?" Twitter user @HarryItie responded to CNN's story on Deen's People interview, summing up in two words the reaction of the Internet.

"Paula Deen crashing and burning before she rises from the ashes like a Phoenix," commented @JayBaklava.

The Stir's Food & Party channel, meanwhile, tried for some humor: "Paula Deen Comes Back From Her Racist Past as a Black Gay Football Player."

"I honestly don't have a problem with Paula Deen I just need her to stop speaking about anything other than cooking," said @mktggirl.

Her comment is a noticeable misstep in what's been pegged as her "comeback" plan: Within the past month, Deen has made a warmly welcomed appearance at the recent South Beach Wine and Food festival, has announced a new company, Paula Deen Ventures, and confirmed she's planning to open a new restaurant in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

It's the support from her fans, Deen tells People, that's enabled her to get back up after last summer's controversy stripped her of sponsors and her gig as a Food Network personality.

"If it wasn't for my fans' love, I'd be home breathing into a paper bag," Deen says. "When I woke up each morning, it was like my world was crashing down again. ... I'm fighting to get my name back."

It looks like that fight continues.

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