Favre Biographer: Don't Read My Book, 'He's a Bad Guy'

Remarks came after texts emerged showing ex-QB knew more on illegal welfare payments than claimed
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2022 9:50 AM CDT
Favre Biographer: Don't Read My Book, 'He's a Bad Guy'
Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre speaks to the media in Jackson, Miss., on Oct. 17, 2018.   (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

"I love Mississippi and I would never knowingly do anything to take away from those that need it most." That was a May 2020 tweet from former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre. He was responding to accusations that he'd illegally received welfare funds from his home state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, program. Newly released text messages published Tuesday by Mississippi Today seem to indicate the exact opposite: namely, that Favre worked with then-Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and nonprofit group founder Nancy New to secure welfare dollars to fund a new volleyball arena at the University of Southern Mississippi—Favre's alma mater. It's also where Favre's daughter played volleyball.

In addition to texts between Favre and Bryant about the stadium, Bryant messaged New—whose nonprofit was tasked with spending "flexible federal welfare dollars outside of public view," per Mississippi Today—asking her to help Favre. And then there are Favre's own texts to New, including one from Aug. 3, 2017, that reads: "If you were to pay me is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?" New assured him he didn't have to worry. In 2020, Mississippi Today asked Favre directly over text if he'd ever had a conversation with Bryant about the volleyball project, to which Favre sent back a one-word response: "No."

The texts came to light after they were entered Monday into the state's continuing civil complaint regarding the scandal. New pleaded guilty in April to state charges of misusing state funds. Neither Bryant nor Favre have been charged with a crime, and the civil case, in which the state is seeking to reclaim $24 million, doesn't actually mention the volleyball stadium. Favre is said to have paid back $1.1 million he was allotted out of the welfare fund to give speeches that he never made, but he still owes $228,000 in interest to the state, per CBS Sports.

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One person not thrilled to read the texts was Jeff Pearlman, who wrote a 2016 biography of the football star, per USA Today. In a Tuesday tweetstorm, Pearlman called Favre's actions "monstrous" and "grotesque" and implored fans not to buy his book or even take it out of the library. "I'd advise people not to read it," Pearlman wrote, showing a photo of a Favre jersey set on fire in a garbage can. "He's a bad guy. He doesn't deserve the icon treatment." Pearlman then said he hoped Favre would "shuffle off into the abyss, shamed by greed and selfishness." Favre's attorney maintains Favre was unaware of the source of the funds. (More Brett Favre stories.)

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