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#pounditThursday, April 25, 2024

Judge makes ruling in Brett Favre’s lawsuit against Shannon Sharpe

Brett Favre with an arm raised

Brett Favre shows off his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring after receiving it during halftime of the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field on October 16, 2016. Credit: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Brett Favre was unsuccessful with his attempt to sue Pat McAfee for defamation earlier this year, and the legendary quarterback has met a similar result with his lawsuit against Shannon Sharpe.

Favre sued McAfee, Sharpe and Mississippi state auditor Shad White back in February, accusing all three men of making “defamatory statements” about Favre’s alleged involvement in a welfare fraud scheme. Favre’s lawsuit against Sharpe focused on comments Sharpe made when Sharpe was co-host of “Undisputed” on Fox Sports 1. During one episode, Sharpe called Favre a “sleazeball” and said the former Green Bay Packers star “stole money from people that really needed that money.”

In May, Sharpe moved to have the lawsuit dismissed. Sharpe’s lawyers argued that the former NFL tight end’s comments were “based on reported facts and couched in rhetorical hyperbole regarding an issue of public concern about a public figure.” On Monday, a federal judge in Mississippi dismissed the case and agreed that Sharpe’s commentary was protected by the First Amendment.

“The context in which Sharpe’s remarks were made–including the tenor of the Broadcast as a whole, the format of the program and its audience, and the fact that viewers were told Favre was not charged with a crime–forecloses Favre’s claim that a reasonable viewer would have thought Sharpe was actually accusing him of committing ‘larceny.’ Because Sharpe’s comments are constitutionally protected rhetorical hyperbole using loose, figurative language, they cannot support a defamation claim as a matter of law,” U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett’s said in his ruling.

Favre allegedly received $1.1 million in welfare funds in his home state of Mississippi for speeches he never made. The Hall of Fame quarterback has also been accused of using welfare funds to pay for a new $5 million volleyball arena at Southern Mississippi. Favre has not been charged in the case but has repaid $1.1 million in debt to the state. He has claimed he had no knowledge of where the money he received came from.

McAfee also criticized Favre over the allegations, but Favre dropped his suit against the popular media personality several months ago. McAfee essentially took a victory lap on the air after that happened.

H/T Awful Announcing

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