OTHER OPINION: Somebody Grab Favre’s Shovel
Published 4:00 am Sunday, February 19, 2023
There is an old saying about crisis management: When you’re in a hole, stop digging.
Now there is a 2023 footnote to that old saying: Somebody needs to take Brett Favre’s shovel away, because the hole he’s digging just keeps getting deeper.
The former NFL quarterback, who is wrapped up in Mississippi’s ongoing welfare fraud scandal, has sued State Auditor Shad White and two members of the national sports media, Shannon Sharpe and Pat McAfee. Favre accuses all three of defaming him.
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The lawsuit against White claims he has “carried out an outrageous media campaign of malicious and false accusations” against Favre in order to further the auditor’s political career.
The lawsuit against Sharpe is based on the former NFL tight end’s critical remarks on an ESPN show he co-hosts. The claim against McAfee, another retired pro football player who hosts a popular sports podcast, is based on comments he made about Favre on his show and on his Twitter account.
Sharpe, according to the lawsuit, said on his ESPN show that Favre’s involvement in the allocation of welfare money for projects that didn’t help the poor was stealing “from the lowest of the low.” Citing a text message uncovered by Mississippi Today, in which Favre asked if there was any way the media would find out what was going on, Sharpe said anyone asking that knows they’re doing something wrong.
McAfee, according to the lawsuit against him, stated on his podcast that Favre was stealing from poor people in Mississippi.
Honestly, if Favre is in the mood for litigation, he ought to cut to the chase and sue Mississippi Today — for doing a good job of looking after public funds. The news organization uncovered all the wrongdoing with welfare money and made it plain that the people who were supposed to make sure it got spent properly were not bothering to do so.
Favre stands very little chance of winning these lawsuits. He has been a public figure for more than 30 years, and the legal bar of defaming him will be high. Plus, his involvement in the welfare case, based on Mississippi Today’s reporting, is plain to see.
Attorneys for White, Sharpe and McAfee will get to depose Favre — ask him questions under oath in advance of any trial. Given what has been made public about the welfare misspending, it’s stunning that Favre is willing to be questioned about this in an adversarial situation. He seems intent on digging a deeper hole.
The defendants are sure to be adversarial. White’s spokesman said in response to the lawsuit that everything White has said about the case is true, and is backed up by work from employees in his office. The spokesman also noted Favre has repaid some of the money the Audit Department demanded from him, and that there is “clear documentary evidence showing he benefited from misspent funds.”
It’s just hard to see how these lawsuits will help Favre rebuild his reputation.
Originally published in The Greenwood Commonwealth.