In connection with his Super Bowl-week suspensions by NFL Network and ESPN, Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin has sued only Marriott. For now.
NFL Network (and, in turn, the NFL) could have potential liability to Irvin. A recent court filing made by Marriott underscores the possibility.
In a Friday motion aimed at preventing Irvin’s lawyers from releasing the surveillance video and limiting the things said publicly about the case, Marriott put plenty of its cards on the table regarding the allegations made against Irvin. Many of those specific allegations (unsupported by any affidavits or other actual evidence) were reported by Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News and explained in a Saturday item here.
But there’s much more, as it relates to the NFL’s role in the process that culminated in the decision to remove Irvin from the network for the week preceding the Super Bowl.
Marriott contends in its motion that, the day after the incident, the NFL “sent its investigator to the Hotel and asked if the Victim was willing to speak with her.” The unnamed Marriott employee agreed to the interview, repeating her version of the interaction with Irvin.
“The NFL investigator then asked to review the video and the Hotel allowed her to do so,” Marriott’s lawyers wrote. “Following her review of the video, the NFL investigator escalated the matter and additional NFL personnel quickly arrived at the Hotel.”
Marriott’s lawyers contend that, from this point forward, the NFL took over the situation, culminating in Irvin being removed from the hotel.
These allegations raise plenty of questions, and they necessitate thorough discovery efforts to learn things said to NFL employees and by NFL employees.
It appears that the unnamed employee of the Marriott hotel repeated her version of the events multiple times. How consistent, or not, will those versions be? How consistent, or not, will they be with the detailed and at times graphic account in Marriott’s motion?
The question of how far this escalated both within the NFL and Marriott organizationals charts also needs to be resolved. Who was involved in the decision making? Did everyone agree? Was the evidence at any point embellished or exaggerated to secure the necessary approvals to take Irvin off the air?
Those and many other questions will need to be answered, at some point. For now, the point is that the NFL (based on Marriott’s latest motion) became heavily involved in the process. At a minimum, that will make the NFL and multiple employees key sources of evidence for Irvin’s case against Marriott. It also could result in the NFL becoming a party to the case — added to the proceedings directly by Irvin or as a third-party defendant by Marriott.
There’s one more wrinkle to watch. ESPN at some point decided to take Irvin off the air. Where and how and when did ESPN get its information? Did it come from Marriott, or did it come from the NFL directly?
And so, while the core questions in this matter flow from what was said and done by Irvin during his interaction with the unnamed Marriott employee, important collateral questions exist regarding the things the NFL did to explore the situation, the things said by and between NFL and Marriott employees, and the things possibly said by and between NFL and/or Marriott employees and ESPN.