The Neelys Weigh in on Paula Deen Controversy

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The Neelys Weigh in on Paula Deen Controversy

In light of celebrity chef Paula Deen's recent controversy concerning past use of the N-word, her former Food Network colleagues, Patrick and Gina Neely, have come forward publicly with their thoughts on the matter.

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In a joint statement to ETonline, the Down Home With the Neelys stars reveal that they were unhappy to learn about Deen's behavior, but have faith that she will emerge from this controversy a better person.

"We were shocked and saddened to learn of the comments from Paula Deen. Racism of any kind from anyone is simply unacceptable and cannot be tolerated," said the couple.

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"In our own relationship, Paula has shown us kindness and generosity. We trust that Paula's apologies are sincere and hope there is a positive lesson to be learned from this situation."

Late last week, Deen issued a public apology for her use of racially-charged language.

"I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I've done," she said. "I want to learn and grow from this. Inappropriate, hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable."

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In the days since, Deen has been dropped as a spokesperson for Smithfield Foods and denied a contract renewal from The Food Network.