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Paula Deen

I'm Just Like That Gay Black Football Player

2/27/2014 11:40 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

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Paula Deen has an odd way of proving she's not a racist -- she just dropped a metaphor ... comparing her n-word scandal to "that black football player who recently came out" ... aka NFL prospect Michael Sam.

Deen says she and Sam are in a similar struggle for acceptance ... because she feels like "embattled" or "disgraced" will always follow her name. 

She told People magazine ... Sam wants to be known as a football player, not a gay football player -- and to drive home her point, she added, "I know exactly what he's saying."

Okay ... the obvious issues: What does Sam's race have to do with anything? And does she really want to compare her use of a racial slur to someone being gay?

Critics have been ripping Paula with comments like, "Maybe Michael Sam could compare himself to "that white, fat, redneck TV chef who used the n-word."

So we gotta ask ...

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