My fellow critics of all things sports, media and sports media: Can we switch up now?
We need to stop tweeting, writing and saying that the Brett Favre welfare money theft misappropriation story isn’t getting attention from “the media.” It most certainly is. Thanks to the diligent work of some journalists in Mississippi, this writer first started wondering over two years ago why Favre got $1.1 million earmarked for needy families through the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
Attention should now focus on the companies who continue to stick by Favre despite growing evidence that he allegedly knowingly stole millions of dollars from the poorest people in the country’s poorest state to build a vanity project at his alma mater.
On Sunday, The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch reported via Twitter that Sirius XM is putting Favre’s weekly show “on hold” in light of the headlines, and the 33rd Team, a website founded by former NFL team executives Mike Tannenbaum and Joe Banner, confirmed to Front Office Sports that it is also pausing its deal with him. Those follow Friday’s news that the ESPN Radio affiliate in Milwaukee decided to “pause” Favre’s weekly appearances.
But as Front Office Sports reported, three companies who use Favre as a spokesman are to this point standing by the 52-year-old: CopperFit, an infomercial staple that sells copper-laced compression items the company claims reduce muscle and joint pain; Hallow, a Catholic prayer and meditation app; and Odyssey Health, which is developing a concussion drug.
Hallow still has a photo of Favre on its website, but a page featuring “Meditations for Athletes” has been edited to remove a short bio on him and recommended words on resiliency (the internet never forgets).
CopperFit has affirmed its relationship with Favre, going so far as to say Favre “always acted honorably” and is a “very decent man” in a statement last week, which … sure. Even before the Mississippi welfare story, Favre had a litany of unsavory and unethical accusations and business dealings. Maybe “honorable” and “decent” have differing meanings to different people.
Odyssey Health scrubbed Favre from its website, though two of Favre’s last three tweets, on July 12 and Aug. 24, were retweets of the company. Last year Odyssey bought Prevacus, a biomedical startup that also factors prominently in the Mississippi welfare funds scandal. Mississippi Today reported that Favre, with the aid of former Gov. Phil Bryant, had millions more in welfare money funneled to Prevacus, and in exchange, Bryant would receive stock in the company after he left office.
Favre hasn’t been charged with a crime. Federal authorities are involved and the FBI has questioned Favre. But how could anyone want to be tangentially associated with this? In this sprawling case, the Mississippi state auditor says at least $77 million in federal funds earmarked for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) was misspent.
If we add up the $1.1 million Favre was given to “promote” Families First For Mississippi (remember, kids: a selfie with a washed-up quarterback is way better than a refrigerator full of healthy food), the $5 million for the volleyball stadium at the University of Southern Mississippi, and the $1.7 million for Prevacus, Favre and his interests got about 10 percent of the amount that the auditor says was misused.
Again, that money was supposed to go to the poorest people in the poorest state in this country. The minimum wage in Mississippi is $7.25 an hour. The median household income is $46,500, far below the federal average in 2020 of $67,500. Twenty-eight percent of children in the state live in poverty. Those numbers are even worse for the state’s Black residents, who are 38 percent of the state.
The capital city, Jackson, was without potable water for weeks this summer.
Text messages acquired by Mississippi Today and the Mississippi Free Press indicate that Favre knew it was wrong to take the money, and even Bryant reportedly texted Favre in September 2019, “we have to follow the law. I am to [sic] old for Federal Prison.”
Still he persisted.
Favre is getting attention. So should the companies who seem to think what he allegedly did is acceptable.