Brett Favre has requested an appeals court to revive his defamation lawsuit against Shannon Sharpe

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Brett Favre speaks with the reporters

Attorneys representing retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre urged a federal appeals court on Tuesday to revive a defamation lawsuit he filed against former Pro Football Hall of Fame member Shannon Sharpe. This legal action unfolds against the backdrop of a significant Mississippi welfare scandal, one of the state’s largest cases of public corruption.

Last October, a federal judge in Mississippi dismissed Favre’s lawsuit, ruling that Sharpe’s statements criticizing Favre’s involvement in the welfare misspending case were protected under the Constitution as free speech during a sports broadcast.

Favre’s lawyer, Amit Vora, argued before three judges from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans that the lawsuit should be reinstated. Vora contended that Sharpe’s remarks, where he accused Favre of theft despite Favre not being charged with any crime, constituted defamation.

During a September 2022 episode of the Fox Sports program “Skip and Shannon: Undisputed,” Sharpe stated that Favre was “taking from the underserved,” “stole money from people that really needed that money,” and criticized anyone who would steal from vulnerable individuals.

Vora asserted, “That’s actual defamation because an average listener would interpret ‘steal’ literally, not figuratively.”

In response, Sharpe’s attorney, Joseph Terry, defended his client’s comments as expressions of opinion when questioned about news reports on the welfare scandal and its potential impact on Favre’s reputation.

Shannon Sharpe poses at a special Netflix screening

“If you consider his remarks within context, it’s evident he was rhetorically sharing his opinions,” Terry argued. The appeals court panel did not indicate when it would deliver its decision on the matter.

Mississippi State Auditor Shad White revealed that between 2016 and 2019, the Mississippi Department of Human Services misused over $77 million from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. This money was meant to support some of the poorest individuals in the United States.

Among White’s findings was that Brett Favre received $1.1 million in speaking fees improperly from a nonprofit organization. This organization used TANF funds with approval from the Department of Human Services. The intended use of these funds was for a $5 million volleyball arena at The University of Southern Mississippi, where Favre’s daughter was involved in the sport and where he attended.

Favre has refunded $1.1 million, but according to a February court filing by White, he still owes $729,790 due to accrued interest on the original amount owed.

Favre, who resides in Mississippi, has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime. He is one of over 30 individuals or entities being sued by the state Department of Human Services.

In October, U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett ruled that Shannon Sharpe’s comments about the case were protected under the Constitution as “rhetorical exaggeration.”

“Here, a reasonable person listening to the broadcast would not believe that Favre actually entered the homes of needy individuals and took their money — that he committed the crime of theft against any specific poor person in Mississippi,” Starrett stated in his decision.


By Robert Jackson

An avid football fan (A red). And an Otaku by the definition of the word.

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