The story of Victor Hugo is well known.
In the 1840s the writer was walking about when he noticed that a thin man was being taken away by police for stealing a loaf of bread. Hugo will turn that man, who had ragged clothes and human misery all over him into a most memorable book, Les Miserables.
I thought of Hugo and that event when reading the latest on former football player Brett Favre who now has 30 days to return $828,000 he received from welfare funds that should have gone to needy families. The Mississippi State Auditor Shad White is not mincing words anymore over this matter.
Favre is a Mississippi native and surely knows that portions of his state are economically troubled, with poverty and lower education scores making for difficult living standards. So when it was made public that he had received $1.1 million in funds from two non-profits, and was only obligated to make speaking engagements for receiving the money something should have registered as being less than legitimate.
The former NFL player never attended or spoke for Families First For Mississippi, one of the non-profits involved in the alleged scheme. The founder of the non-profit, however, has been indicted on state and federal charges for the largest embezzlement scheme in that state’s history.
The ongoing saga is not new, but the ante has been increased with White now saying the recipients of the misspent funds, including Favre and Favre Enterprises, must repay the money within 30 days or face a civil lawsuit.
The wording of that letter did not mince words. Even a bounced around the football field type of player could not miss the import of the letter.
The letter Favre received from White said the “illegal expenditures and unlawful dispositions were made when you knew or had reason to know through the exercise of reasonable diligence that the expenditures were illegal and/or the dispositions were unlawful.”
Here is my bottom line.
I do not often write about sports on this blog. When I do, it is never about a team winning or a player that is doing better than the oddsmakers thought possible. I see sports merely as a larger social issue.
As such then, this tawdry behavior from Favre is posted about as we simply can not accept this type of behavior from someone who is termed ‘a hero’ by too many impressionable young boys. It has long been a sore point of mine when national role models succumb to the dark side after having been presented to the public as images our nation’s kids should emulate. In reality, there are limited national figures in our country who have the qualities and characteristics that most parents would want their children to look up to, or model their lives after.
And that is sad.
The poor man who just wanted bread for his family can be understood. The rich man who took money needed by those in poverty can only be scorned. Hugo would have constructed a Farve story with no doubt as to the moral foundation.
And so it goes.