Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Report: NFL looks at risque ad
The NFL is investigating an advertisement for an adult film event in Miami that included the images of Chicago Bears safety Major Wright and other NFL players, according to an ABC TV report in Chicago.
Wright, Chargers draftee Corey Liuget -- who went to Illinois -- and other players appear in uniform in an advertisement for last month's Exxxotica Expo 2011, billed as the largest gathering of adult film stars.
"It's an intellectual property issue since the players were featured in their team jerseys," Brian McCarthy, NFL vice president of corporate communications, told ESPNChicago.com. "The NFL office works on behalf of the clubs to protect their intellectual property rights in matters such as this. Our legal team is reviewing the ad. In general, companies not affiliated with the NFL or its clubs may not depict a player in his uniform."
In addition to Wright, Eric Berry and Brandon Flowers were shown in their Chiefs uniforms as two of the hosts at the party May 20.
Also pictured on the flier were Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson and Raiders wide receiver Jacoby Ford, along with six photographs of the adult film stars.
Wright said that his likeness should never have been used in the ad for the May event.
"I authorized my name and likeness to be used in conjunction with other NFL players at a party which (was) to be hosted by other NFL players," he said in a statement. "I had no knowledge and never would have given authority for my name or likeness to be associated with Erotica Expo 2011. I am deeply disappointed that my name and likeness was manipulated by the promoters of this event. The use of my picture in a Chicago Bear uniform was never discussed or approved.
"It is unfortunate that this incident has occurred and I would like to let the Bears organization, our fans, my teammates, family and friends know that I am truly sorry. I have learned a valuable lesson and will use more prudent judgment with people I associate myself with in the future."
The next Exxxotica Expo opens in Rosemont, Ill., July 8, and Wright said on Twitter he is not promoting that event.
"FYI... I have NOTHING to do with the Exotic Expo @ the Rosemont!" Wright tweeted.
The ad for the Miami event also billed Wright -- a Miami native and fixture on the South Beach club scene -- as a host of the event. According to the report, he has appeared in videos and ads for similar club events in the past.
Bears spokesman Jim Christman told WLS-TV in Chicago that the Miami ad "is an improper use of team marks and the Chicago Bears are not associated with this ad."
Christman added that "many times players themselves are unaware of the violation and companies simply pull images and make ads not realizing they are in violation."
The Rosemont event is expected to draw tens of thousands of adult film fans, will have 150 exhibitors, dozens of seminars on sex play and continuous stage shows, according to WLS. Promotional materials say it will be the largest gathering of adult film stars.
ESPNChicago.com Bears reporter Michael Wright and The Associated Press contributed to this report.