Sports | September 14, 2022 11:28 am

Ex-Mississippi Governor Allegedly Helped Brett Favre Defraud Welfare System

Phil Bryant allegedly helped Favre obtain funds to build a volleyball center at the University of Southern Mississippi

Ex-NFL player Brett Favre attends media day at Super Bowl LVI in LA
Ex-NFL player Brett Favre is taking some major hits.
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

As more details about what appears to be a massive scandal in Mississippi that has allegedly defrauded one of the poorest states in America out at least $77 million intended to help impoverished citizens, Brett Favre has once again emerged as a central figure.

Favre, who was paid $1.1 million by the Mississippi Community Education Center with money allocated for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program for three speaking engagements he never attended, allegedly obtained at least $5 million in welfare funds to build a new volleyball center at the University of Southern Mississippi with the help of former Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant.

Detailed in a piece by Mississippi Today, the scheme involved Davis, Favre, former state welfare agency director John Davis and Nancy New, a friend of Bryant’s wife who ran a nonprofit that was in charge of spending tens of millions of flexible federal welfare dollars. Filed as evidence in the state’s ongoing civil lawsuit over the welfare scandal, text messages show Bryant, Favre, New and Davis colluded to channel at least $5 million in state welfare funds to build a new volleyball stadium at the University of Southern Mississippi. Favre attended the school and his daughter played volleyball there as well.

The text messages are damning, as is the revelation that the $1.1 million in welfare funds that Favre received to promote Families First for Mississippi (which he has subsequently repaid after the story made headlines) was just a cover to get more funding to the volleyball project. Per Favre’s attorney, Bud Holmes, his client never knew he received welfare funds. “Brett Favre has been honorable throughout this whole thing,” Holmes told Mississippi Today. (A text message where the one-time Super Bowl winner asked “If you were to pay me is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?” indicates otherwise.)

As of now, New has pleaded guilty to 13 felony counts and Davis awaits trial, but neither Favre nor Bryant have been criminally charged. However, the court of public opinion is another matter entirely and many people are washing their hands of Favre, including his biographer Jeff Pearlman.

Pearlman, who published Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre in 2016, took to social media and told football fans not to read or buy the book. “On the day of extended Favre revelations, I wanna share something: I wrote a biography of the man that was largely glowing. Football heroics, overcoming obstacles, practical joker, etc. Yes, it included his grossness, addictions, treatment of women. But it was fairly positive,” he wrote. “And, looking at it now, if I’m being brutally honest—I’d advise people not to read it. He’s a bad guy. He doesn’t deserve the icon treatment. He doesn’t deserve acclaim. Image rehabilitation. Warm stories of grid glory. His treatment of Jennifer Sterger was … inexcusable.”

It seems he meant it: