Attorneys for Shannon Sharpe followed Pat McAfee’s lead by seeking the dismissal of Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre’s defamation lawsuit.
Using many of the same arguments and exhibits as McAfee’s motion last month, Sharpe’s lawyers wrote in Wednesday’s filings that the Fox Sports 1 host’s comments about Favre’s links to the Mississippi welfare scandal are protected speech.
“Sharpe’s opinions — commentary based on reported facts and couched in rhetorical hyperbole regarding an issue of public concern about a public figure — lie at the core of the protections afforded by the First Amendment and Mississippi law,” Sharpe’s lawyers wrote in a memo of support of their client’s motion to dismiss. “Sharpe’s comments are not actionable, and the complaint is irreparably defective on its face.”
Beyond their First Amendment arguments, Sharpe’s lawyers also wrote that Favre “failed to meet the most basic prerequisite to bringing a defamation claim” under Mississippi’s retraction statute.
“This statute requires plaintiffs to send a retraction demand ten days before suing,” Sharpe’s lawyer wrote. “Favre’s failure to comply with that statute provides an independent ground for dismissal.”
Favre’s lawsuit took issue with a Sept. 14 episode of “Undisputed.”
“‘So, if that is the poorest state, Brett Favre is taking from the underserved,” Sharpe said on air. “You made a hundred plus million dollars in the NFL, and to talk about, well, [Favre] didn’t know. This is what Brett Favre texted, ‘If you were to pay me, is there any way the media can find out where it came from and how much?’
“He stole money from people that really needed that money.”
Favre’s texts have been made public during a lawsuit filed against Favre and about 30 others by a lawsuit filed by the Mississippi Department of Human Services. Favre has been connected to about $8 million of misappropriated welfare funds.
The judge in the case denied Favre’s latest motion to be dismissed in the case as a defendant.
Favre has denied any wrongdoing.
Beyond Favre and McAfee, Favre also sued Mississippi State Auditor Shad White on Feb. 9.