Over a period of seven years, Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre has been alleged to have swindled over eight million dollars from the welfare fund of Mississippi, the poorest state in America, according to the New York Times.
While no charges have been filed against him, Favre has been named in a lawsuit by the State of Mississippi demanding the misappropriated money back. With all of these details coming to light, calls have been made for his removal from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and frankly these calls are not only justified but needed.
A timeline published by the Mississippi Free Press shows a pattern of misconduct starting in 2015 with over 70,000 dollars in donations from Favre’s “Favre4Hope” charity for disadvantaged children being misdirected to the athletic booster funds of his daughters high school and his alma mater, The University of Southern Mississippi. The donations to his daughter’s high school were to help fund a new 1.4 million dollar volleyball facility that the Lamar County School Board approved earlier that year.
It is clear to see that funds meant for disadvantaged children should not be going to posh new sports facilities in the third richest county in the state.
In April 2017, Favre first reached out to then Mississippi governor Phil Bryant inquiring about a new volleyball facility on the campus of University of Southern Mississippi. It is important to note that this is separate from his previous actions in 2015 funding his daughter’s high school volleyball facility. Nevertheless, Favre mentioned that the university has “no money” and hoped to have the building up in a year or so. Bryant responded by saying he is dedicated to the project and that “One thing I know how to do is raise money”. While there was no mention of public funds yet, the groundwork was being laid for an aggressive public project with Favre as its center.
For the next two years, Favre would lobby for the building of the volleyball facility through any means necessary. Court filings also uncover the fact that Favre was paid over 1.1 million dollars personally through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) which is a federal grant program designed to help families in poverty.
In turns out, despite his need for outside investment to support his goals financially, Favre is the twenty second richest player of all time in the NFL having raked in over 137 million dollars, not including endorsements. It is troubling that someone who made that much money finds it necessary to steal from a state that is ranked as the poorest state in America according to CNBC.
The fact is, the call for his removal from the Pro Football Hall of Fame is completely justified. The Hall of Fames mission stated on its website is to, “Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve its History, Promote its Values and Celebrate Excellence Together”. By keeping Favre in this sacred institution, the league is indirectly celebrating the corruption that he stands for. That corruption, certainly, is not what the league prides itself on.
Over the last twenty years, I have seen Barry Bonds be denied entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame because of his use of steroids. While this action was wrong, Bonds arguably saved the game by injecting the fun back into the sport that wasn’t seen since the mid 20th century. Yes, he was wrong for taking steroids, but baseball would be dramatically different without that small sin. In comparison, Favre stole millions from families in need. There is a clear difference between cheating the game and cheating poor and needy people. If both are out of their respective hall of fames then the decision is understandable, but anything less is just not right.
Even though criminal charges have yet to be filed, the moral damage of his actions should prompt the league to ban him permanently. For much less, we have seen reprimands significantly greater. I am empathetic to the fact that the league wants to see the situation play out, but when the dust settles and if all claims are proven true, Favre must be removed from the Hall of Fame.