Brett Favre Is Not Letting Suit Against Shannon Sharpe Go

Former Packers star is seeking to revive defamation lawsuit
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 9, 2024 7:10 PM CDT
Brett Favre Is Going After Shannon Sharpe Again
Brett Favre speaks prior to his induction to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame on Aug. 1, 2015, in Jackson, Mississippi.   (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

Lawyers for retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre will ask a federal appeals court on Tuesday to revive a defamation lawsuit Favre filed against fellow Pro Football Hall of Fame member Shannon Sharpe, amid the backdrop of a Mississippi welfare scandal. A federal judge in Mississippi threw out the lawsuit in October, saying Sharpe used constitutionally protected speech when he criticized Favre's connection to the welfare misspending case. Favre hopes the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals will reinstate the lawsuit, reports the AP. Sharpe said during a September 2022 broadcast of the Fox Sports show Skip and Shannon: Undisputed that Favre was "taking from the underserved," that he "stole money from people that really needed that money," and that someone would have to be a sorry person "to steal from the lowest of the low."

Mississippi State Auditor Shad White has said that from 2016 to 2019, the Mississippi Department of Human Services misspent more than $77 million from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program—funds intended to help some of the poorest people in the US. Among White's findings was that Favre improperly received $1.1 million in speaking fees from a nonprofit that spent TANF money. The money was to go toward a $5 million volleyball arena at the University of Southern Mississippi, which he attended and where his daughter was playing the sport. Favre has paid back $1.1 million, but White said in a February court filing that the former quarterback still owes $729,790 in back interest.

Favre has denied wrongdoing and isn't facing criminal charges. He's among more than three dozen people or companies being sued by the state's Department of Human Services. US District Judge Keith Starrett's October ruling said Sharpe's remarks about the case were constitutionally protected "rhetorical hyperbole." "Here, no reasonable person listening to the Broadcast would think that Favre actually went into the homes of poor people and took their money—that he committed the crime of theft/larceny against any particular poor person in Mississippi," Starrett wrote. Favre's attorneys said the ruling mischaracterized Sharpe's remarks. "A reasonable listener could and would have interpreted Sharpe's repeated statements to the effect that Favre 'stole money' from 'the underserved' as factual assertions about Favre," they said. (More Brett Favre stories.)

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