Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre is suing Shannon Sharpe, Pat McAfee, and Mississippi auditor Shad White for defamation of character.
In 2020, White revealed the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) misused at least $77 million from the state’s welfare program. Favre was among the individuals accused of misspending the money from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. He received $1.1 million in TANF funds from the Mississippi Community Education Center. Although he fully repaid the organization, the auditor’s office claimed he still owes $228,000 in interest payments.
In Sept. 2022, Mississippi Today reported Favre used at least $5 million toward building a volleyball court at the University of Southern Mississippi. Favre pleaded his case, saying that he was unaware of the funding coming from welfare programs.
“I did not know that funds designated for welfare recipients were going to the University or me,” Favre said in an Oct. 11 statement to FOX News. “I tried to help my alma mater, a public Mississippi state university, raise funds for a wellness center. My goal was and always will be to improve the athletic facilities at my university.”
However, text messages were revealed that showed Favre in contact with nonprofit founder Nancy New and former MDHS director John Davis. New and Davis both pleaded guilty of welfare fraud. Regardless, Favre still proclaimed his innocence and filed a defamation lawsuit on Feb. 9 against Sharpe, White and McAfee.
Sharpe unloaded on Favre on Sept. 14, comparing his treatment amidst these allegations to other former NFL players.
“When you go back to look at his history in the NFL, they should’ve tarnished [his legacy] already,” Sharpe said. “I was in the room when Brett Favre went to the Hall of Fame, and nobody mentioned the messages he sent to that masseuse. Nobody mentioned anything about the addiction he suffered from. But yet with Terrell Owens, they brought up everything. Can you imagine if he had incidents like Favre off the field?”
McAfee has become one of the most prominent sports media figures after an eight-year career with the Indianapolis Colts. On his online program, “The Pat McAfee Show,” he reported on the leaked text messages from Favre in his Sept. 14 and Nov. 8 episodes. After hearing the news of Favre’s lawsuit against him, McAfree responded saying, “I’ll see you in court pal.”
Many defend McAfee’s words against Favre, including Alex Caldwell, a junior public relations major at Howard University.
“I think in general it’s ridiculous that Pat is being sued,” Caldwell said. “If anything, Pat is one of the most fair and rational talking heads in the sports media industry. He covered the news about Brett Favre because that was national news that broke during the time. He is entitled to his own opinion about the situation. Furthermore, he constantly used the word ‘allegedly.’”
Auditor White’s representative Fletcher Freeman issued a statement in response to Favre’s accusations:
“Everything Auditor White has said about this case is true and is backed by years of audit work by the professionals at the Office of the State Auditor. It’s mind-boggling that Mr. Favre wants to have a trial about that question. Mr. Favre has called Auditor White and his team liars despite repaying some of the money our office demanded from him. He’s also claimed the auditors are liars despite clear documentary evidence showing he benefited from misspent funds. Instead of paying New York litigators to try this case, he’d be better off fully repaying the amount of welfare funds he owes the state.”
Copy edited by Chanice McClover-Lee