In an interview with People magazine, Deen quoted Sam as saying he wants to be known as a football player and not a gay football player. The Missouri All-American Sam recently came out as gay.
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.