Celebrity chef Paula Deen, who saw her cooking empire collapse after acknowledging that she used the N-word in the past — is under fire for how she worded a comparison of her struggle for a comeback to that of NFL prospect Michael Sam.

Image source: AP/Jeff Christensen

AP

“It’s like that black football player who recently came out,” Deen told People, according to USA Today.

“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.”

Much of the criticism about Deen’s comment in the article, which comes out Friday, is over her use of the phrase “that black football player” to refer to Sam, who publicly acknowledged he is gay earlier this month.

#ScramblingToFindDuckTape Perhaps some alternative means of communicating in the future should be recommended:... http://t.co/oHUYUoWXFx
Paula Deen Under Fire for Referring to Gay NFL Prospect Michael Sam as That Black Football Player
@DrTonyMac
Tony McNeill
SMH! Open mouth, insert foot, repeat. *sighs* Paula Deen: I'm like 'that black football player' http://t.co/q4pnmUrCry via @
Paula Deen Under Fire for Referring to Gay NFL Prospect Michael Sam as That Black Football Player
@micwiljrSC
BrotherJR
Somebody needs to give Paula Deen better media coaching http://t.co/0YjCeE7AqJ
Paula Deen Under Fire for Referring to Gay NFL Prospect Michael Sam as That Black Football Player
@elisefoley
Elise Foley
Paula Deen has learned nothing, compares herself to "that black football player" Michael Sam http://t.co/lcc4kIsUJ3
Paula Deen Under Fire for Referring to Gay NFL Prospect Michael Sam as That Black Football Player
@Salon
Salon.com
No way, Paula Deen. You didn't. You couldn't. You're THIS stupid??? ANYbody is THIS stupid?? http://t.co/2jrNL9OyWc http://t.co/D4IAgNbv3p
Paula Deen Under Fire for Referring to Gay NFL Prospect Michael Sam as That Black Football Player
@maggiewalsh
maggiewalsh
she's strangely ungood at this.// Paula Deen Compares Her Struggle To 'That Black Football Player' Who Came Out http://t.co/qvNdsHbwOL
Paula Deen Under Fire for Referring to Gay NFL Prospect Michael Sam as That Black Football Player
@GeeDee215
Gene Demby

Deen’s admission last summer of using the N-word resulted in lost endorsements and her getting kicked off the Food Network. She said at the time she never used the N-word except for one moment 30 years ago when she went through an attempted robbery “with a gun to my head.”

Aiding Deen’s comeback, The Wrap reported, is between $75 million and $100 million from private equity firm Najafi Cos. for her new company Paula Deen Ventures, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Najafi Cos., based in Phoenix, was speaking with “TV networks, retail chains and other possible partners,” a Paula Deen Ventures representative said, though not the Food Network.

“I’m fighting to get my name back,” Deen told People. “I feel like ‘embattled’ or ‘disgraced’ will always follow my name.” Deen also reflected on the power that words improperly used can wield.

“I have been hurt by them, and I unintentionally hurt others,” Deen said. “But I don’t want that to define who I am.”