Three days before the Super Bowl, a drama of a different kind was unfolding off the field. Michael Irvin, a former Dallas Cowboys superstar, ESPN personality and Dancing with the Stars contestant, was slapped with a lawsuit that alleges sexual assault and rape. The lawsuit refers to a series of alleged events that happened over the July 4th holiday in 2007. The woman known in the suit as Jane Doe claims that Irvin and a unnamed male companion lured her into a hotel room and was forced to perform sexual favors against her will. Doe claims that the Hall of Famer “has a history of attempting to commit similar sexual assaults”. The accuser is seeking damages for the sexual assault and rape. Accusations of rape in the world of sports are not a unique occurrence, but what happened next with Michael Irvin is a bombshell.
The twist in this story happened a few days later when Irvin filed a suit against Nicole A. Mustafa alleging “civil extortion, conspiracy, defamation and tortuous interference.” Irvin not only denied the rape charges but also claims that he was fired from ESPN due to Mustafa's “false allegations”. Irvin claims that Mustafa has been attempting to extort money from him since his success on Dancing with the Stars. The complaint states, “It is typical for fame-seekers to attack celebrities of Irvin's stature to try and make a quick buck.”
The $100 million counter-suit speaks volumes about how Irvin and his team are handling the damaging sexual assault allegations. By refusing to settle out of court, Michael Irvin is clearly trying to protect his public image and his career. It remains to be seen whether or not Irvin's strategy can succeed. But if it does, it could be a bellwether move signaling a change in how celebrities protect themselves.