Judge dismisses defamation lawsuit against Brett Favre, saying Shannon Sharpe committed exaggerations regarding welfare money

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – A federal judge was fired Monday ‘S Libel lawsuit against a retired NFL colleague which ruled that Sharpe used constitutionally protected speech on a sports broadcast when he criticized Favre’s association with one Case of social assistance misconduct in Mississippi.

US District Judge ruled that Sharpe, a former tight end, used “rhetorical hyperbole” when he said on television that Favre was “taking from the underserved,” that the former quarterback “stole money from people who really needed that money” and that someone that would have to do Be a sad person, “to steal from the lowest of the low.”

Favre sued Sharpe in February, saying the other Pro Football Hall of Fame member made “egregiously false” statements about him on the Fox Sports talk show “Skip and Shannon: Undisputed.” The case was moved to federal court in March and Sharpe left the sports show in June.

The discussion of Mississippi’s social spending in “Undisputed” came after extensive reporting on allegations in Mississippi’s largest public corruption case.

Mississippi Auditor Shad White said the Mississippi Department of Human Services more than missed the mark from 2016 to 2019 77 million dollars from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program – money intended to help some of the poorest people in the United States

Prosecutors said the department donated money to nonprofits that spent it on projects favored by wealthy and well-connected people, such as a $5 million volleyball facility at the University of Southern Mississippi, a project for that Favre had agreed to collect money.

Starrett wrote in his ruling Monday that Sharpe’s references to “taking” and “stealing” referred to the diversion of TANF funds “for purposes other than supporting the underprivileged.”

“Similarly, Sharpe’s use of the words ‘people who really needed that money,’ ‘the lowest of the low,’ and ‘the underserved’ are again examples of protected, colorful idioms that refer to needy families in Mississippi,” the wrote Judge .

“Here, no reasonable person listening to the broadcast would think that Favre actually went into poor people’s homes and took their money – that he committed the crime of larceny/theft against a particular poor person in Mississippi,” wrote Starrett.

On Monday evening, Sharpe took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to acknowledge the dismissal of the lawsuit and thank his legal team for handling the case.

The Associated Press emailed Favre attorney Michael Shemper late Monday seeking comment on the dismissal of the lawsuit.

No criminal charges will be brought against Favre, but he is among more than three dozen people or companies the state is suing to recover misdirected welfare money.

In addition to the lawsuit against Sharpe, Favre filed defamation suits earlier this year against White, the auditor, and sportscaster Pat McAfee, a former NFL player. Favre ended his lawsuit against McAfee in May, after McAfee apologized for comments on television that Favre had “stolen from poor people in Mississippi.” Favre’s lawsuit against White is still pending.

Favre has repaid $1.1 million he received for speaking fees from a nonprofit group that spent TANF funds with the approval of the Mississippi Department of Human Services. White said Favre never showed up to give the speeches.

In December, the department created one new claim of up to $5 million against Favre and a university athletic foundation that said welfare money was improperly used to fund a volleyball arena at Favre’s alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi.

Favre’s daughter began playing volleyball at the university in 2017. Records in the state’s civil lawsuit show that Favre and others exchanged text messages about directing money to the volleyball facility from a nonprofit that had contracts with the Department of Human Services.

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