Brett Favre, Pat McAfee settles over ‘stealing from poor people’ comments
Retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre is ending a lawsuit against sportscaster Pat McAfee after McAfee publicly apologized Thursday for his previous on-air statements that Favre had been “stealing from poor people in Mississippi” in a welfare misspending case.
Favre and McAfee both announced the settlement. McAfee, a former NFL punter, apologized during “The Pat McAfee Show” on YouTube and said he did not have to make a payment to Favre to settle the suit.
“As I confirmed in my court papers and I repeat here, my statements expressed in comedic style were based solely on public information and allegations,” McAfee said, adding that he respects Favre’s football career.
“I would much rather talk about sports than about lawsuits, so I’m glad we have all of this behind us,” McAfee said.
Favre wrote in a Twitter post: “Like Pat said, he was attempting to be funny and not commenting based on any personal knowledge. We’d both much rather talk about football.”
In a lawsuit filed in a Mississippi court in February, Favre’s attorneys wrote McAfee had used “outrageous falsehoods” that included calling Favre a “thief” who was “stealing from poor people in Mississippi.” In March, Favre dropped the state lawsuit and filed a similar complaint in federal court.
Favre still has defamation lawsuits pending against former NFL player Shannon Sharpe and Mississippi Auditor Shad White.
Favre said Sharpe made “egregiously false” statements about him on the Fox Sports talk show “Skip and Shannon: Undisputed,” including that Favre “stole money from people that really needed money.”
Sharpe’s attorneys have asked a federal judge to dismiss the case, writing in a May 3 filing: “Mississippi law protects Sharpe’s right to make caustic and critical comments on Favre’s involvement in a matter of public concern: the misspending of welfare funds intended for poor Mississippi families.”
White’s attorneys have said Favre cannot prove malice in any statements the auditor has made about the welfare case.
White has said that from 2016 to 2019, the Mississippi Department of Human Services misspent more than $77 million in welfare money. Prosecutors have said the department gave money to nonprofit organizations that spent it on projects such as a $5 million volleyball facility at the University of Southern Mississippi — a project for which Favre agreed to raise money.
Favre is not facing criminal charges, but he is among more than three dozen people or businesses the state is suing to try to recover misspent money through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families antipoverty program.
Favre has repaid $1.1 million he received for speaking fees from a nonprofit group that spent TANF money with approval from the Mississippi Department of Human Services. White said Favre never showed up to give the speeches.
In December, the department made a new demand of up to $5 million against Favre and a university sports foundation, saying welfare money was improperly used to pay for a volleyball arena at Favre’s alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi.
Favre’s daughter started playing volleyball at the university in 2017. The volleyball facility was a pet project of the NFL Hall of Famer, and he pledged to lead fundraising efforts. Filings in the state’s civil lawsuit show text message exchanges between Favre and others about directing money to the volleyball facility from a nonprofit organization that had Department of Human Services contracts.