Texts: Brett Favre among 3 who sought White House help for brain injuries when pursuing concussion drug funding

Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, his business associate and former Mississippi governor Phil Bryant sought White House assistance in 2019 for brain injuries at a time when they were pursuing funding for an experimental concussion drug, newly released text messages show. The funding for that drug, developed by Prevacus, has since become part of a sprawling Mississippi welfare fraud case.

The texts released Thursday by the former governor show him telling Favre that they needed then-President Donald Trump's support. On Oct. 23, 2019, Bryant asked Favre whether he had "heard from Trump about going to his rally," and that the president had asked Bryant to "make sure you were attending."

"We need him to champion treatment of Brain Injuries among NFL players," Bryant wrote. "He can make all the difference with your help...we have a cure." It is unclear if Favre attended the rally.

A month later, the texts show, Prevacus founder Jacob VanLandingham discussed with Favre and Bryant a potential White House summit on youth brain safety led by Prevacus, which he said "could be huge" for the company.

"We need to get all our team athletes together for this and win!!!" VanLandingham texted on Nov. 22, 2019.

Athletes such as Tom Brady, Herschel Walker and Tiger Woods were discussed as being invited for the summit, according to the texts, which VanLandingham said would take place before the Super Bowl and include Trump greeting them in the Oval Office. There's no evidence that any of these athletes were contacted or that the summit took place.

"I got Kurt Warner and David Ross and some medical experts ready to join us," VanLandingham wrote to Favre and Bryant on Dec. 2, 2019. "Need to try and get Tom Brady." Warner and Ross were members of Prevacus' sports advisory board.

The documents also revealed Favre had invested more than $800,000 of his own money in the pharmaceutical start-up.

"I've invested 850k of my own and I believe 100% in Jake and this drug but he needs funding like now," Favre texted Bryant on Nov. 27, 2018. "So obviously any help from you is needed immediately!!!"

Prevacus overstated its NFL connections and exaggerated the known effectiveness of its drugs during efforts to raise money, ESPN previously reported.

"What's the issue with trying to work with the government to solve concussions?" a spokesman for Favre told ESPN on Thursday.

In April 2020, a Mississippi state audit found at least $77 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds were misspent. Eight people have been indicted, six of whom have pleaded guilty for their involvement.

In May 2022, Favre, VanLandingham and Prevacus were sued by the state in a lawsuit as part of the largest case of public fraud in Mississippi history. Prevacus and its affiliate received $2.1 million in TANF funds, according to the lawsuit. Favre, VanLandingham and Bryant have not been criminally charged and have denied wrongdoing.

ESPN senior writer Xuan Thai contributed to this report.