A federal judge has dismissed Brett Favre’s defamation lawsuit against Shannon Sharpe, ruling that Sharpe’s comments on a sports broadcast were constitutionally protected speech.
Favre sued Sharpe over statements made on the show “Skip and Shannon: Undisputed,” where Sharpe criticized Favre’s connection to a welfare misspending case in Mississippi.
The judge determined that Sharpe’s comments were rhetorical hyperbole and not meant to be taken literally.
“Similarly, Sharpe’s use of the words ‘people that really needed that money,’ the ‘lowest of the low,’ and ‘the underserved,’ again are examples of protected, colorful speech referring to needy families in Mississippi,” the judge wrote.
“Here, no reasonable person listening to the Broadcast would think that Favre actually went into the homes of poor people and took their money — that he committed the crime of theft/larceny against any particular poor person in Mississippi,” Starrett wrote.
Favre has filed defamation lawsuits against other individuals involved in the case, including the state auditor and a former NFL punter.
Favre has repaid $1.1 million received for speaking fees related to the misspent welfare money.