The ongoing investigation into widespread welfare fraud in Mississippi continues to get closer to Brett Favre. On Monday former governor Phil Bryant was subpoenaed as part of an ongoing civil suit, demanding him to turn over specific text messages with Favre about the pair’s involvement in the concussion drug “Prevacus.”
Favre’s involvement in Prevacus has been the underreported element of the corruption story nationally. Extensive reporting has been done into Favre accepting money for speeches he never gave, and working to build a volleyball court at Southern Mississippi University — however, there is perhaps no more cut-and-dry example of wrongdoing than how Favre became embroiled in Prevacus, and used his role as an early investor to secure additional financing from Bryant, as well as other key players in the corruption probe.
The most extensive dive into Favre’s connection to Prevacus comes from Anna Wolfe of Mississippi Today, who turned a light on the quarterback’s involvement back in April. At that time Bryant vehemently denied any involvement while he was in office. However, text messages obtained by Mississippi Today indicate otherwise.
Prevacus founder Jake VanLandingham saw Favre as a key player from the beginning. Text messages between the former drug company CEO and Favre indicated that the quarterback would be receiving an extensive stake in the company for his role in “helping” the company. It’s unclear what the intention was behind this phrasing on the part of VanLandingham, although we know Favre was integral in connecting the private drug company with state financiers.
The most critical of these meetings allegedly happened at Favre’s home, where he hosted VanLandingham, former director of social services John Davis, and nonprofit owner Nancy New. The purpose of this meeting was to connect the state funding side (Davis and New) with the drug company in an effort to secure funding. Both Davis and New have since pleaded guilty to their role in the scheme, and are cooperating with prosecutors. Following this meeting, Favre gleefully messaged former governor Bryant, saying:
“We couldn’t be more happy about the funding from the State of Mississippi. In fact, Nancy New is going to meet with Joe at Tradition the following week.”
“Joe” refers to Joe Canizaro, a New Orleans businessman who has connections to Bryant. At this time it’s unclear how he plays a role, outside of being introduced to Prevacus by Favre and Bryant, however it seems a key element of the deal was that Canizaro would invest $100,000 into Prevacus, with Bryant and Davis funneling Mississippi state funds through New to the company as well.
It’s here the waters get muddy. Details emerged of the welfare fraud scheme in early 2021, at which time Prevacus scrapped its plans to build a facility in Mississippi and sold its drug to Florida-based Odyssey Health. At the time Prevacus CEO Jake VanLandingham was added to Odyssey’s board of directors, with Favre taking a role on the company’s “sports advisory board.”
In recent weeks Odyssey has been working overtime to scrub any connection to VanLandingham or Favre. The company has erased all its tweets mentioning Favre, removed its “sports advisory group,” and VanLandingham has been erased from the company’s management page. However, despite these efforts, Odyssey failed to remove key press releases from its archives, which as recently as mid-August highlighted the prominence of VanLandingham and Favre in the company.
Favre continues to maintain his innocence. In an exclusive interview with Fox News, he claims he has been “unjustly smeared in the media,” regarding money obtained for the Southern Mississippi volleyball court, and in accepting money for speeches he never gave. It’s Favre’s assertion that he never knew where the money was coming from, which has been repeatedly shown to be, at best, a half-truth. While it’s possible Favre didn’t directly know the money was coming directly from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding, evidence shows he was aware that money was coming from a fund intended for the needy — and the university volleyball court didn’t t fit any scope of that funding.
The new interview with Fox News fails to mention Odyssey Health or Prevacus at all. However, it’s clear Fox was intimately aware of both the drug company, and Favre’s involvement — and chose not to ask him about it. In 2021 another press release from Odyssey highlights a media blitz by Favre to promote the acquisition of Prevacus, noting an appearance on Fox Business with VanLandingham, as well as Kurt Warner and Mark Rypien discussing the drug on Fox News.
The decision by Fox not to ask Favre about Prevacus/Odyssey Health is lazy at best, and at worst its actively shielding the quarterback from questions about the element of the corruption probe from which he has the least cover. While there is some potential gray area about the volleyball court, namely whether Favre legitimately believed it would be used to help needy youth, the same excuse cannot be said about a private drug company Favre helped get off the group through his state connections.
If Favre and VanLandingham are innocent when it comes to Prevacus, then why did Odyssey scrub all mention of them, when just two months ago they proudly promoted their involvement? Why is Fox News happy to have Favre on to promote the drug in 2021, but pretend it doesn’t exist in a report about the state corruption probe now that Favre is granting them an exclusive?
Why, if Favre did “nothing wrong” as he claims, did he text VanLandingham following a meeting with state officials suggesting the drug company buy the Mississippi director of health and human services a new truck if “this all works out”?
“This all works out we need to buy her and John Davis surprise him with a vehicle I thought maybe John Davis we could get him a raptor.”
These are questions we might not get answers to — but the subpoena of Phil Bryant’s message logs with Brett Favre surrounding Prevacus will shine a brighter light than ever on a key element of the probe which to this point has been underreported outside of Mississippi. Local reporters have been routinely rebuffed when trying to reach Favre for comment, or seeking to clarify his side of the welfare investigation, yet in Favre’s mind the only opportunity to tell his side of the story was through Fox News.
Favre has now retained the services of Eric Herschmann as his lead legal counsel, who represented former President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial, before becoming a senior advisor to the Trump administration. No formal charges have been brought against Favre at this time.