Michael Irvin denies Super Bowl hotel misconduct allegations
DALLAS - Dallas Cowboys great Michael Irvin spoke Wednesday about allegations made against him just before the Super Bowl.
Irvin was removed from his TV assignments that week after a woman working at a Marriott hotel in Arizona accused him of misconduct.
With his attorney and agent by his side, Irvin passionately denied the allegations to reporters.
"I know I didn't do anything wrong, I know I didn't do anything wrong, and I was trying to do everything right," Irvin said.
On February 5, Irvin was in Phoenix covering the Super Bowl for NFL Network.
He was staying at Renaissance Phoenix Hotel & Spa.
A server at the Renaissance Phoenix Hotel & Spa claimed he harassed her and made inappropriate comments while they were in the lobby.
Irvin denied any wrongdoing and said there are witnesses who support his claim that he briefly shook hands with the woman and then went up to his room to go to bed.
"This just blows my mind that in 2023 we are still dragging and hanging brothers by a tree," Irvin said. "I don't even know what I'm defending."
He also went much further than just denying wrongdoing. He compared the alleged attack on his character to a lynching.
"This sickens me, this sickens me," he said. "This takes me back to a time when a white man, a white woman would accuse a Black man of something, and they would take a bunch of guys that were above the law, run in the barn, put a rope around his foot and drag him through the mud, and hang him by the tree."
He filed a $100 million lawsuit against Marriott and the woman, accusing them of defamation.
Irvin's lawyer said he was shown video of the incident for the first time Tuesday, but was not allowed to take a copy to show the public, despite a court order compelling Marriott to produce the video to Irvin’s legal team..
"The allegations are nonsense, and we immediately need to get Michael back to work, and we need Renaissance to apologize to him," said Levi McCathern, Irvin's lawyer.
McCathern said Irvin touched the woman four times.
"He shakes her hand at the beginning, shakes her hand at the end, he one time touches her on the elbow, and one other time he buckles over laughing and brushes her other elbow. That is it," he said.
McCathern said the woman did not appear to look upset or back away from Irvin.
At one point during the press conference, Irvin appeared to wipe away tears as he listened to two witnesses back up his claim that he did nothing wrong.
Irvin had just returned to the lobby after taking pictures with the fans he met at the hotel bar.
Those witnesses are said to be in the hotel surveillance video that Irwin's legal team is fighting to get a copy of.
They appeared via Zoom at the news conference, in defense of Irvin.
"It was a very jovial conversation and there is no reason to look at it as anything untoward," said Phil Watkins. "Basically, I heard some laughter, looked up, there was a few handshakes, there was more laughter and went their separate ways."
"They had a very brief interaction that was super friendly, lots of laughter," Bryn Davis.
The men reportedly came forward after they heard news reports about the allegations made against Irvin.
Irvin's lawyer says they filed an emergency court order to get a copy of the video on Wednesday morning.
"I don't even have a copy to talk to my client about it. What is so damning about a video that was taken in a public lobby that they're now using to destroy this man's livelihood and reputation that they won't just release it," McCathern added.
In a court filing late Wednesday, Marriott attorneys argued a copy wasn’t provided: "In accordance with the Court’s Order permitting Marriott to ‘take reasonable measures to protect the employee’s identity.’"
Marriott also pointed to the comments to reporters, including about the prospect of sharing the video, with Marriott saying: "…it is apparent that producing the video for inspection, as Rule 34 allows, was both reasonable and necessary."
"In every discovery dispute ever that goes to court, people are irritated at the other side," attorney David Coale said.
Coale, who is not involved in the case, expects the judge to find a solution.
"The way a court commonly resolves this kind of dispute, where there are issues of privacy, is to allow the discovery, but subject to a court order that limits what can be done with the material," he explained.
Amid all of the attention of this video, it’s still unclear what it will actually answer.
"The replay might not be any good. I mean, you can’t tell sometimes on the replay that might be this," Coale said.
"If I did something wrong, I'll suffer the consequences. But if you did something wrong, you meaning them, then they should suffer the consequences," Irvin said.
Irvin and his legal team declined to take any questions, citing the ongoing legal battle.
A judge is now set to decide the next steps.