Former Dallas Cowboys and Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin filed a $100 million defamation lawsuit against Marriott International and a female employee who accused him of misconduct last month. On Saturday, the company's lawyers released details of the allegations in a 28-page court filing obtained by USA TODAY Sports.
The motion provoked a statement from Irvin's lawyer, Levi McCathern, who disputed the claims via The Dallas Morning News.
The Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel initially claimed the retired NFL player made “harassing and inappropriate” comments on Feb. 5 to a worker who is listed as "Jane Doe" in court records. The complaint led to Irvin's removal from NFL Network’s and ESPN’s Super Bowl-week programming.
“Total hogwash,” McCathern said in a statement to The News on Friday. “Marriott’s recently-created account goes against all the eyewitnesses and Michael’s own testimony as well as common sense. We will release the video next week. There is no sexual assault. The fact Marriott is taking the position that it is is an insult to all of the true female victims out there."
Irvin is now accused of flagging down the employee while "visibly intoxicated." He then was allegedly aggressive toward the employee, shaking her hand, asking her if she watched football, telling her to Google his name.
He's also accused of reaching out and touching the employee's arm without her consent, before asking if she knew anything about having a "big Black man inside of (her)." Then, Irvin allegedly attempted to grab the employee's hand again, saying he was "sorry if he brought up bad memories for her."
Marriott's lawyers claim that Irvin then saw security and offered her his hand to end the conversation.
“Seeing that other Hotel employees were in the area and wanting the interaction to end, the Victim returned Irvin’s handshake,” Marriott’s lawyers wrote. “Irvin then stated that he would come back to find her sometime that week when she was working.”
“After Irvin finished leering at the Victim and turned back to Employee 1, he said aloud, ‘She bad,’ ‘She bad,’ ‘I want to hit that,’ and slapped himself in the face three times, saying, ‘Keep it together, Mike,’” Marriott’s lawyers wrote.
“I was shocked by Marriott’s prior handling of this situation. I am now disgusted and appalled. I wish the trial was tomorrow, so Michael could clear his name and get the compensation he deserves for Marriott’s reckless disregard for the truth," McCathern added.
The legal fight between Irvin and Marriott is just beginning
Marriott offered the details with a direct response to Irvin's recent emotional comments at a Wednesday news conference with his lawyers. In the news conference, McCathern said he was able to view the soon-to-be-released footage but unable to record it. From his account, the video shows Irvin making contact four times with the accuser, twice brushing up against her elbow and twice shaking her hand.
"How can I defend myself if I don't know what I am being accused of?" Irvin asked. "I don't even know what this woman looks like. That blows my mind that in 2023, we’re still dragging and hanging brothers by a tree. (I) know I didn't do anything wrong," he said.
Along with providing the details in the filing, Marriott wrote,"Irvin’s counsel provided a self-serving, inaccurate summary of the video footage Marriott produced, including his claim that the footage proves Irvin did nothing wrong and then turned the microphone over to Irvin to make a racially charged statement."
Ex-Cowboys WR Michael Irvin was visibly emotional when witness Bryn Davis delivered his account of what transpired Feb. 5 between Irvin and a woman at hotel lobby. Irvin said the incident has forced him to question how to address people who approach him in public. pic.twitter.com/bIVY72L9ps
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) March 8, 2023
On Friday, Marriott requested a protective order as part of Irvin's lawsuit to "ensure that Irvin and his counsel do not jeopardize the safety and privacy of the victim, the hotel’s employees, and its guests." There are likely more filings, statements and public comments to come ahead of an official trial.