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Players' appearance in porn event ad prompts NFL investigation

  • By NFL.com
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The NFL is investigating a porn event advertisement that features several active NFL players, as well as at least three 2011 draft choices, Chicago television station WLS reported Tuesday night.

"The NFL office works on behalf of the clubs to protect their intellectual property rights in matters such as this," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said after receiving a copy of an ad for last month's Exxxotica Expo 2011 in Miami that showed photos of five NFL players -- Chicago Bears safety Major Wright, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers and Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry, Houston Texans defensive back Kareem Jackson and Oakland Raiders wide receiver/kick returner Jacoby Ford -- in their team uniforms.

"Our legal team is reviewing the ad," McCarthy said. "In general, companies not affiliated with the NFL or its clubs may not depict a player in his uniform."

Berry's agent, Chad Speck, told profootballtalk.com that his client not only didn't attend the event, he was in Kansas City at the time helping promote a book written by a friend.

"Eric did not attend and had no knowledge of this event, and he certainly did not approve the use of his name and image in connection with the party," Speck said.

Flowers, in a statement released by his management, said he "gave no authorization to any person to use my name or likeness in conjunction with this event.

"It was brought to my attention that the promoters at this club were planning to utilize my name and likeness. I immediately contacted the appropriate parties at (Club Play) and told them that they had no authority to use my name or likeness and they should remove me from any promotional materials. I will pursue any remedies I may possess against the parties responsible for the unauthorized use of my name and likeness.

"I would like to let the Kansas City Chiefs organization, my teammates, our fans, my family and friends know that I would never associate my name and likeness with the type of party held on that day."

In addition, the names of three draft picks -- San Diego Chargers first-rounder Corey Liuget, a defensive tackle; Miami Dolphins second-rounder Daniel Thomas, a running back; and Baltimore Ravens seventh-rounder Anthony Allen, a defensive back -- appear on posters promoting the Miami event. All eight of the players are listed as hosts for the event.

Wright, Allen, Liuget and Jackson all issued statements Wednesday expressing their disapproval for the use of their names and likeness.

"I want to set the record straight in reference to news reports on my involvement at an event that took place on May 20th in Miami, Florida at Club Play. I authorized my name and likeness to be used in conjunction with other NFL players at a party which I believed to be hosted by other NFL players," Wright said. "I had no knowledge and never would have give authority for my name or likeness to be associated with Exotica 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 Bears 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 judgement with people I associate myself with in the future."

On Wednesday, McCarthy told The Kansas City Star that the league's legal department would likely send a cease-and-desist letter to the nightclub that used players in their uniforms, which, he said, "usually ends it."

When asked whether players' involvement in a party featuring porn stars was also a concern, McCarthy said he would not comment.

Bears officials told the television station that they will keep an eye on the "love and sex expo," which is being held in suburban Chicago for the first time. In addition to the three-day event Miami, it previously has been held in Los Angeles and New Jersey.

"This is an improper use of team marks, and the Chicago Bears are not associated with this ad," Bears spokesman Jim Christman said. "Many times players themselves are unaware of the violations and the companies simply pull images and make ads not realizing they are in violation."

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