On Brett Favre’s Welfare Scandal

Thom Weidlich 09.29.22


Talk about a reputational challenge. The heat keeps turning up on ex-NFL quarterback Brett Favre. As part of a larger scandal, he’s alleged to have pressured Mississippi officials to turn over $8 million in welfare funds for his pet projects, including a volleyball stadium at his alma mater. And yet Favre seems to be doing nothing to defend his rep (such as it is).

The crisis, simmering for years, could scorch the former gridiron star, especially in his home state (Mississippi), where he’s been a favorite son. That good standing may not stand. Conversely, some say he has no good rep to defend. For example, during his career he was banned from drinking alcohol and was fined for not cooperating about a sexting allegation against him. His post-retirement image has been sort of clownish.

Favre hasn’t been criminally charged in the welfare scandal, as some others have, though he’s one of many defendants in a civil suit the state brought in May.

Text Messages

Still, for Favre, the pocket continues to collapse, especially with the trickling out of damning text messages. In 2019, he was working with then-Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant to build the new volleyball facility at the University of Southern Mississippi, where his daughter played the sport. Favre was raising money for the project, but now it’s come out how he allegedly did that, and it isn’t pretty.

Favre kept pushing the governor even after he told the ex-pro that misuse of the welfare funds could be illegal. Favre has denied knowing that such funds would be used. That’s hard to square with the texts.

Favre has reportedly repaid $1.1 million (though not the interest) given to him for promotional appearances he never made. With regard to that plan, in 2017 he texted the leader of the nonprofit that distributed millions in federal welfare dollars, “If you were to pay me, is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?”

That’s not a good look.

NFL Career

Is Favre tarnishing his 20-year NFL career? The public scrutiny isn’t going away. SiriusXM has suspended his NFL show and ESPN Wisconsin has done likewise with his biweekly appearances, according to CNBC. A spokesman for the Pro Football Hall of Fame told The New York Times he’s fielded about a dozen calls from people asking Favre to be booted from the institution.

And it doesn’t appear Favre or his lawyer have said much, other than denying he knew about the welfare funds. In terms of crisis response, that’s a factual question that should be answered with facts — marshalling them is a major part of crisis communications. And yet, maybe he simply doesn’t have a more in-depth answer to the allegation.

Photo Credit: Ingo70/Shutterstock

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