Witnesses Defend Michael Irvin’s Interaction With Hotel Employee Who Accused Him Of Misconduct
Two people who witnessed Michael Irvin’s encounter with a female hotel employee said the interaction was friendly, prompting Irvin to comment that Black men used to get lynched for similar false accusations.
The Hall of Fame wide receiver has filed a $100 million defamation lawsuit alleging that the Phoenix hotel and the unnamed employee wrongly accused him of misconduct.
The Associated Press identified the witnesses as Phil Watkins of Australia and Bryn Davis of Philadelphia. They appeared via video link for a news conference Wednesday (March 8) to share what they observed in the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel lobby on Feb. 5.
Watkins said he saw “nothing at all” that could be considered inappropriate, according to the AP.
Previously, Irvin told Dallas radio station KRLD and The News that he had a brief conversation with her that lasted between 45 seconds and one minute, but “there was no sexual wrongdoing.”
Watkins’ comments Wednesday confirmed Irvin’s version of the encounter. He said Irvin and the woman shook hands and laughed. “There was nothing untoward out of the interaction,” and Irvin soon left for the elevator as the woman went back toward the bar, Watkins stated, according to the AP.
For weeks, Marriott International refused to allow Irvin and his lawyer, Levi McCathern, to see a hotel surveillance video of the encounter. Instead, Marriott filed objections when two judges ordered it to respond to McCathern’s request.
Marriott finally allowed McCathern to watch a short video Tuesday (March 7) at its attorney’s office. McCathern was neither given a copy nor permitted to make one. McCathern said Wednesday that the video shows Irvin and the woman shaking hands. He touched her elbow twice before leaving.
“The allegations are nonsense. We need to immediately get Michael back to work, and I believe Renaissance needs to apologize,” McCathern said, according to the AP.
Marriott did not immediately respond to the AP’s request for comments.
But the hotel chain filed a motion Feb. 27 to dismiss Irvin’s lawsuit, NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk reported. Marriott claimed that it doesn’t own the Phoenix hotel where the alleged wrongdoing happened. According to Marriott, it operates, franchises, or licenses nearly 8,300 properties worldwide but only owns 21 of those properties.
Marriott’s response also offered a vague clue about the alleged wrongdoing, saying that Irvin made “harassing and inappropriate comments” to the female employee.
Irvin was in Arizona on assignment for NFL Network to cover Super Bowl LVII week. After meeting the employee, Irvin said hotel security came to his room, woke him up, and removed him from the hotel without an explanation. After that, the NFL Network dropped Irvin from its Super Bowl coverage, telling The Washington Post that his future status with the network was unclear.
At the news conference, an emotional Irvin said scores of people introduce themselves to him in hotel lobbies, as he travels throughout the year. “I couldn’t even tell you what she looked like,” Irvin said.
Irvin said mobs would kill Black men during the Jim Crow-era based on a false accusation from white women.
“They would take a bunch of guys who were above the law … throw a rope around his feet and drag him through the mud and hang him from a tree,” Irvin said, adding, “This just blows my mind, that in 2023 we [sic] still dragging and hanging brothers by a tree.”