Former NFL coach Jeff Fisher is firing back after an email accused of him being pressured into drafting Michael Sam.
Sam was the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL.
The New York Times reports that Jon Gruden, who was working for ESPN at the time, said that Fisher bowed to pressure into drafting Sam.
In the email, Gruden used a homophobic slur to reference Sam, according to the New York Times.
In a statement, Fisher, who was the coach of the St. Louis Rams at the time, noted that Sam was the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013.
“We selected him in the 2014 NFL Draft based on his defensive production and pass rushing skill set on the field,” Fisher said.
Fisher added that a player’s sexual orientation “would never” have played a part in the decision to draft a player.
Fisher also praised Sam for coming out.
“It took courage to serve as a role model for those competitive football players who may also happen to be gay,” Fisher said.
Gruden resigned as head coach of the Raiders after The New York Times reported the contents of the emails.
He apologized and said he never intended to hurt anyone.