A former NFL Network freelance makeup artist has accused analysts Eric Davis and Michael Irvin of sexual harassment and assault, while blaming the network’s human resources department for mishandling her complaint.
In an essay published on SI.com, Erin McParland wrote that when she filed an HR complaint against the two former NFL players last year, the network never followed up about Irvin and allowed Davis to leave his job quietly, to allow him to “save face.”
Last week, Davis was suspended from ESPN, where he currently works as a radio host, as the network investigates another set of allegations against him and other past and present NFL Network analysts. Irvin, who has been investigated for sexual assault several times in the past, including earlier this year, still works for NFL Network.
McParland described escalating inappropriate interactions with Davis, beginning with suggestive comments about the makeup artist’s flexibility and growing into all-out harassment and even assault.
The next time I was in makeup and Davis was leaving, he leaned in for another hug. This time, not only was the hug too long, but it was too close. I could feel him pressing and rubbing his genitals into my leg. I felt frozen, numb.
The third and final incident was full-on predatory, and it came during the filming of Total Access, one of the network’s premier shows. Davis went in for a hug and then, with both hands, grabbed and fondled my buttocks. I instantly pulled away, recoiling. I looked him in the eyes and firmly told him, “Hands off.”
His response to groping me at work was simply to walk out with no comment. This was no misunderstanding. I had just been sexually assaulted in my workplace.
McParland alleged that Irvin had made “inappropriate gestures and comments,” including grabbing her waist while she was powdering him.
According to McParland’s essay, she reported both men to HR, with a co-worker sharing her own story about Davis as well. She writes that the network ignored her claims against Irvin and mismanaged her allegations against Davis, allowing him to confront her in a way that intimidated her. Then, she writes, the network let Davis leave quietly to avoid embarrassing him or the network.
The HR head explained to me that it would be in Davis’s best interest to leave the NFL Network quietly. That would protect both the network and Davis from negative public exposure. Both parties would save face. Lift the rug, sweep it under.
Davis quickly found a job at ESPN, where McParland says she also freelances.
SI.com reached out to NFL Network for comment and were told that the network had already investigated McParland’s claims, resulting in Davis’ firing.