By Jimmie Johnson (Reporter), Jack Aylmer (Producer ), Dan Reardon (Editor )
Newly revealed text messages reportedly show NFL Hall of Fame’s Brett Favre sought millions in federal welfare funds for a new volleyball stadium at the University of Southern Mississippi. That is the same school where Favre played college football and where his daughter played volleyball at the time the texts were sent.
The Green Bay Packers legend was aided in his request for funds by then-Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who helped connect Favre with Nancy New. It was through New’s non-profit, the Mississippi Community Education Center, that $77 million in welfare money was allegedly funneled to other ventures. New has since pleaded guilty to a litany of state and federal charges related to her role in the scheme.
Favre was recently questioned by the FBI over the extent of his involvement in the scheme, though he denied knowing where the funds came from. However, in one of the uncovered text messages sent during August of 2017, Favre asked New whether payments made to him could be traced back by members of the media.
“If you were to pay me is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?” inquired Favre.
That message was in reference to a $1.1 million payment Favre received for a motivational speech which he ultimately never gave. That money was then used instead for the development of Southern Mississippi’s volleyball center. In total, at least $5 million of the state’s welfare funds were redirected to build the stadium.
The messages also give further details into Bryant’s knowledge of the scandal, including plans to name the stadium after him and the intended introduction of the stadium as a “wellness center” in order to justify the non-profit’s involvement. In texts sent to Favre, Bryant assured him that he would “call Nancy and see what it will take” to complete funding of the stadium’s construction.
Bryant sent additional texts to New in 2019, saying she should meet with him soon to “make sure we keep [Favre and New’s] projects on course.” The former governor has also continued to deny wrongdoing on his part in the matter.
Neither Bryant nor Favre have been criminally charged to date, but this latest revelation has renewed scrutiny of the pair’s actions.