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Federal judge dismisses Brett Favre’s defamation suit against Shannon Sharpe

Brett Favre played for both the Green Bay Packers and the New York Jets after his time at Southern Miss (Photo from the New York Jets/website)

A federal judge has dismissed Brett Favre’s defamation lawsuit against NFL Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe for comments he made about the former quarterback’s alleged involvement in the largest welfare scandal in state history.

In February, Favre sued the now-media personality Sharpe and Pat McAfee, another former NFL player turned show host, for using their platforms to make “egregiously false” remarks about the former Southern Miss standout’s accused role in the misspending $77 million dollars intended for needy families in Mississippi.

Sharpe, on the nationally broadcast show Undisputed with Skip and Shannon, said that Favre had stolen money from people who really needed it and that only a “sorry person” would steal from the “lowest of low” in society.

Though Favre dismissed his suit against McAfee after the former Indianapolis Colts punter issued an apology, his litigation against Sharpe remained ongoing until U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett ruled on Monday that the former Denver Broncos tight end had used constitutionally protected speech.

“The court found that my speech was First Amendment protected,” Sharpe said on the Nightcap with Unc and Ocho podcast. “He sued myself and a few other people. Pat McAfee apologized. Me — I wasn’t going to issue an apology because if I had issued an apology I’d have felt that I had done something wrong… I’m glad it worked itself out. I’m glad this is behind me and I can move on with my life. I just hope the people of Mississippi have their day in court.”

Mississippi State Auditor Shad White was also listed in the defamation suit. White is accused of capitalizing on an opportunity to gain notoriety from national media outlets by misleading the public about Favre’s alleged role in the welfare scandal.

The Mississippi Department of Human Services rescinded its $1.1 million demand from Favre after he reportedly repaid the funds in December. The department then issued a $5 million demand while accusing the retired quarterback of deliberately using Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds to construct a new volleyball stadium at Southern Miss.

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