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Brett Favre is getting bad press — again. Here’s what happened

Deseret News 11/8/2022 Kelsey Dallas
Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre warms up before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Monday, Oct. 5, 2009, in Minneapolis. © Morry Gash, Associated Press Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre warms up before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Monday, Oct. 5, 2009, in Minneapolis.

Brett Favre is facing another round of bad press after an ESPN investigation determined that two concussion drug companies backed by the quarterback misled potential investors.

The companies, Prevacus and PresolMD, allegedly “overstated their NFL connections and exaggerated the known effectiveness of their drugs,” according to ESPN.

ESPN undertook the investigation after Favre and the companies’ founder, Jake VanLandingham, were named in a civil lawsuit tied to the misuse of welfare funds in Mississippi.

State leaders claim that Prevacus and PresolMD improperly received around $2.1 million due to the advocacy efforts of VanLandingham and Favre, an investor in and spokesman for the concussion drugs.

“Neither Favre nor VanLandingham was charged, but they are among 38 individuals and companies named earlier this year in the civil lawsuit, which seeks the return of more than $20 million that had been designated for needy families,” ESPN reported.

Related

What is the Mississippi welfare fraud scandal?

The $20 million sought in the lawsuit represents just a small part of the misspent welfare funds. Mississippi leaders believe that up to $100 million were misused over the course of several years, according to The Washington Post.

“Despite widespread poverty across the state, court filings describe a corrupt system in which state officials directed welfare money to programs, people and projects that had little interest in helping the state’s most vulnerable,” the article said.

Alleged recipients include professional wrestlers, relatives of elected officials and Favre, a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.

“This fraud went under the radar for years because neither the state nor the federal government required Mississippi officials to show that the programs receiving welfare funds actually helped anyone,” Mississippi Today reported in May.  

Why is Brett Favre in trouble?

Favre, who spent most of his NFL career as quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, has been accused of attempting to funnel welfare funds to building projects at his alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi, and to the companies he’d invested in, Prevacus and PresolMD, as the Deseret News previously reported.

Text messages exposed as part of the civil lawsuit show the quarterback asking former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant to help him secure funding.

Favre tweeted in May 2020 that he had ‘never received monies for obligations I didn’t meet’ and ‘was unaware that the money being dispersed was paid for out of funds not intended for that purpose.’ But court filings suggest he had at least some awareness of where the money was coming from,” The Washington Post reported.

Favre has repeatedly denied purposefully misusing welfare funds.

“I have been unjustly smeared in the media. I have done nothing wrong,” he said in a statement provided to Fox News Digital in October.

Favre declined to offer a new comment to ESPN after they contacted him about their investigation into the concussion drug companies. VanLandingham denied knowingly abusing the welfare system.

“I had no idea this was welfare money, and I’ve always been an upstanding person when it comes to research,” VanLandingham told ESPN.

Concussion drug companies face scrutiny

ESPN’s investigation repeatedly references the Mississippi welfare fraud scandal and Favre’s and VanLandingham’s ties to it, but its focus is on concussion research done by Prevacus and PresolMD, and how that research has been presented to the public.

The story argued that the companies overstated the potential of “a nasal spray to treat concussions and a cream to prevent or limit them.”

“In 2018, VanLandingham, Favre and several other Prevacus athlete investors appeared on NBC’s ‘Megyn Kelly Today’ and promoted the (spray), even though it was yet to be FDA approved, its efficacy had never been tested on humans and it still was potentially years from making it to the market,” ESPN reported, arguing that that dubious claims have also been made about the cream.

VanLandingham told ESPN that he’s also been clear that the drugs need further testing.

“There’s plenty of researchers and companies out there that promote their drug and their mechanism of action as they’re trying to get funding to get it through the FDA process,” he said. “We clearly tell people it’s got to go through (the trials.) Nobody’s sitting here (saying) this drug works in humans. That’s never been the case for me.”

Although VanLandingham remains active in the world of drug development, “both PresolMD and Prevacus are currently inactive corporations,” ESPN reported.

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