Opinion: National sports journalists focus on Favre

Stories about NFL legend Brett Favre and former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant have been dismal in recent weeks as text messages and other revelations about ill-spent welfare money continue to pile up.

Without one of Favre’s miracle comebacks, it’s going to get worse. National sports media are on the case and one of Favre’s biggest fans, NBC Sports’ Peter King, has joined in the criticism of the Super Bowl champion.

This is important because King, especially during his many years as a professional football writer for Sports Illustrated, was one of Favre’s biggest admirers.

As Mississippi sports fans know, there was so much to love. But King’s “Football Morning in America” ​​column, which landed on the NBCsports.com website on Monday, exposed the world of trouble Favre created for himself by actively lobbying for public funds for a facility. volleyball at his alma mater, Southern University. Mississippi.

“Favre’s reputation among his NFL peers has taken a major hit,” King wrote. “Former quarterback Sage Rosenfels supported Favre in Minnesota in 2009. They were close enough that on the sidelines of the 2009 NFC title game after Favre threw the incredible interception through his body which led to New Orleans’ winning field goal, Rosenfels says Favre told him, “I got choked.”

“Last Thursday, Rosenfels tweeted, ‘Since retiring I’ve been lucky enough to avoid stealing millions of dollars from the poorest people in my state.’ Ouch. Imagine a teammate who got along with a big star (and vice versa), sharing a quarterback room and a season, sending a dagger of a tweet like that. It shows the outrage of so many people in Favreau.

To be fair to Favre, his attorney claims the retired quarterback didn’t know the USM money came from money meant to help the needy. As King wrote, investigations into the transactions should determine whether this defense is accurate.

Meanwhile, the Mississippi Today website, which broke the story and covered it closely for some time, now has the attention of King, ESPN and other national news outlets.

On King’s podcast slated for release on Tuesday, Mississippi Today reporter Anna Wolfe said she believed many people working on Favre’s behalf — such as the nonprofit education operator Nancy New and Department of Human Services director John Davis — behaved more like wide-eyed fans of a Mississippi celebrity than stewards of the public purse.

She also noted that lax federal regulations on the use of Temporary Assistance money for needy families encouraged state officials to spend it on things like the volleyball court — because almost all people who applied for TANF assistance were turned down.

ESPN, meanwhile, reported over the weekend that in 2019, Favre continued to ask Bryant, who was still in the job, for more money for the volleyball facility, ostensibly so that Favre does not have to pay for it himself.

The story included messages between Bryant and then-USM president Rodney Bennett, who messaged the governor: “The bottom line is that he personally guaranteed the project, and on his word and his handshake, we proceeded. It’s time for him to pay – it really is that simple.

The Governor replied: “It’s a legend, but he must understand what a promise means.”

Mississippi Today has its critics in the state who say the website is too liberal. But it’s hard to make the same claims about the sports world, where Favre was highly respected for his accomplishments and down-to-earth personality – before this story ran.

With Peter King and ESPN on the case, things are looking really grim for Brett Favre.

—Jack Ryan, McComb Enterprise-Journal