How Brett Favre’s mistakes were hidden from view
Living off rip-off and shirking responsibility while being protected by media fame, power and complicity describes more people than just Donald Trump. It’s an apt description of his golf buddy, Brett Favre. In the eyes of the sports media, Favre lived less as a person than as an idea: the “gunslinger” NFL quarterback. His piece was his personality. He was daring. He was ruthless. He was a tough guy who played in more straight games than anyone in NFL history. He was popular in his home state of Mississippi and on the frozen tundra of Green Bay’s Lambeau Field.
But there was another Brett Favre, hiding in plain sight. This Brett Favre was a whirlpool of demons whom those around him, including journalists, ignored or only touched with the softest of kid gloves. First, there was his addiction to Vicodin and alcohol. In 2021, long after his playing days, Favre revealed the depths of his plight, saying: “It was two pills that got me high and then it was four. At the peak I was taking 16 Vicodin ES at once.”
A team doctor only found that out after Favre had a seizure. However, when his addiction was exposed, it was placed in the context of a gamer so devoted to the sport that he would do anything to keep his back-to-back gaming streak alive. The fact that Favre also had a self-described alcohol addiction was not investigated. He also projected an image as a family man. But as a gray-haired veteran quarterback for the New York Jets, Favre sent pictures of his penis to New York Jets reporter Jenn Sterger and voicemails urging her to come to his hotel room. Even though she didn’t even know him. Favre just assumed it would come to him like a pizza order. “A lot of people don’t know that I never met Brett Favre,” she said in 2018. “I don’t know him. I never met him in person, never shook his hand, never said hello, never introduced myself. To this day, many people don’t realize that I was bullied online. I wasn’t his lover, I wasn’t his girlfriend, we didn’t have any physical interaction at all, and I think that’s something that still shocks people to this day.”
Then, when his camera videos were released, it was Sterger, not Favre, who paid the price with her career as she was buried under the label ‘Brett Favre’s girl’.
Favre, of course, moved on and played at MVP level for the Minnesota Vikings, always the gunslinger the media was infatuated with. (A tough white quarterback is their catnip.) After his playing days, Favre, far from an outcast, had a regular appearance on Sirius XM radio, garnered raves at Lambeau, and, of course, was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot. The media loved Favre and, while raking other scandal-plagued athletes over the coals, often excused him like an extra The Dukes of Hazzardjust a “good ol’ boy” and just plain brett being brett.
Knowing that this man was granted a privileged pass at every opportunity is crucial to understanding how Favre was supposedly able to trick the poorest residents of his home state of Mississippi by taking millions of dollars from money earmarked for welfare recipients directing his alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi, to build a volleyball arena. (Favre’s daughter played volleyball for school.) Favre denies all the allegations against him and says he was unaware of the harassment. But we have text messages that strongly suggest Favre knew exactly what he was doing and was concerned the press would find out. We also have evidence from scathing texts that former Governor Phil Bryant has fallen into the trap. We’ll have to see how the legal system follows up on this. But given the abject poverty in the state of Mississippi and the terrible water conditions in Jackson, Miss. – something the current governor, Tate Reeves, seems to find amusing – Favre’s alleged money laundering and even just his access to those funds is intriguing.
Favre had recently been subpoenaed for taking money from the state of Mississippi to conduct “motivational interviews” and then not having the interviews. Nonetheless, he was given the keys to the state’s cookie jar for the alleged welfare fraud. Why a quarterback would have such access to government funds is a story. Why someone who’s made more than $100 million during his career still has a penchant for disconsolate, ugly crooks is another. Last but not least, it speaks to the culture of protected, privileged impunity that has surrounded and cushioned his life. His affection for golf buddy Donald Trump plays as a metaphorical understanding of this. Lives like yours don’t just catch up with the individual. The collateral damage to others is profound.