The Marriott hotel chain claims that NFL commentator Michael Irvin made a lewd remark to an employee, repeatedly touched her, and then leered at her and made a crude comment after she walked away.
“Irvin… asked the Victim whether she knew anything about having a ‘big Black man inside of [her],” attorneys for Marriott said in a court filing on Friday.
The filing, obtained by The Dallas Morning News, was the latest twist in a $100 million lawsuit filed by the football hall of famer against Marriott after it reported his alleged misconduct to the NFL—resulting in him being pulled from the airwaves by ESPN and NFL Network.
Irvin’s attorney told the paper the allegations were “hogwash.” The former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver has also denied he acted inappropriately and compared the accusation and the repercussions from it to a lynching.
“It just blows my mind that in 2023 we’re still dragging and hanging brothers by a tree. It blows my mind that I have no opportunity to defend—I don’t even know what I’m defending,” Irvin, who admitted he had been drinking that evening, said at a press conference last week.
Irvin’s attorney, Levi McCathern, has said he viewed video of the encounter between his client and the unidentified hotel employee—which occurred while the on-air personality was in Phoenix for Super Bowl coverage—and that it showed a friendly conversation.
But the account given by Marriott is starkly different from that assessment.
The hotelier says in its filing that Irvin approached the woman and initiated the conversation.
“Irvin also reached out and touched the Victim’s arm during this conversation without her consent, causing her to step back, becoming visibly uncomfortable,” it said.
“Irvin then asked the Victim whether she knew anything about having a ‘big Black man inside of [her].’ Taken aback by Irvin’s comments, the Victim responded that his comments were inappropriate, and she did not wish to discuss it further.
“Irvin then attempted to grab the Victim’s hand again and said he was ‘sorry if he brought up bad memories’ for her.’ The Victim pulled her hand away and tried to back away from Irvin as he continued to move towards her.”
Irvin extended his hand to say goodbye, and the woman “wanting the interaction to end” shook his hand, Marriott said. “Irvin then stated that he would come back to find her sometime that week when she was working.”
After the woman walked off, Irvin allegedly said, “She bad, She bad, I want to hit that” and then slapped himself in the face before saying, “Keep it together, Mike,” according to another hotel worker cited in the filing.
The woman reported the incident to hotel management the next day, and Marriott alerted the NFL, which had reportedly asked the company to flag any misbehavior by its staff.
Five days later, Irvin filed a $100 million lawsuit against Marriott and “Jane Doe,” alleging they sabotaged his career. The suit is currently being litigated in federal court in Texas.
The judge in the case upbraided Marriott on Friday for failing to comply with his previous order to turn over the video of the encounter. McCathern said when the video is made public, it will clear his client of wrongdoing.
“Marriott’s recently created account goes against all the eyewitnesses and Michael’s own testimony as well as common sense,” he told the Morning News. 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.”