The I-Team broke the story in Tuesday night's Intelligence Report.
After first denying any involvement in the story first reported Tuesday night, Chicago Bears safety Major Wright late Wednesday afternoon changed his tune and issued an apology, claiming that he did lend his name to a club party but didn't know it was for the Exxxotica Expo.
But, the I-Team has learned, this may not be the end of the trouble for Wright and several other NFL stars.
This was the event that has now attracted the attention of NFL attorneys: A sex expo in Miami attended by the world's top porn stars along with 20,000 fans. A similar event is scheduled for next month in suburban Chicago.
When Tuesday's Intelligence Report revealed an ad for a porn expo kick-off party in Miami that displayed several in-uniform photos of NFL players, both the Bears and now the league told the I-Team there was a violation of league licensing rules, not to mention the propriety of pro athletes linked to a major porn event.
Wednesday morning, on the Twitter social media page of Chicago Bears safety Major Wright, he stated that he had nothing to do with the "exotic expo."
Wednesday afternoon, however, Wright issued an apology through his agent, saying, "I had no knowledge and never would have given 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."
Wright said that the use of his "picture in a Chicago Bear uniform was never discussed or approved."
On Major Wright's personal photo page though he has posted ads for two other events at other Miami nightclubs, both ads featuring the very same Bears photo of Wright that he claims he didn't authorize.
NFL attorneys will have some new violations to check: Splashy ads the I-Team has obtained for events at Miami's Club Play that feature other top football players, all of them in uniform. The Miami club was the site of the now infamous porn star kick-off.
Club Play's general manager told the I-Team late Wednesday afternoon that they are "financially backed" by several professional athletes and NFL and NBA players frequently host parties there. One of Club Play's video ads features Chicago Bulls stars Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah arriving for a club event.
The club executive said the NFL has never asked them to refrain from using player photos in party ads, but if the league did, they would.
"I want to set the record straight in reference to news reports on my involvement at an event that took place on May 20 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. I had no knowledge and never would have given 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 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."
Nightclub lashes back against NFL Players, Porn Stars links
In a statement Wednesday night, a Miami Beach nightclub attempted to defend itself from what club executives called "erroneous accusations" that linked porn stars and NFL players at an advertised event.
As the ABC7 I-Team first reported on Tuesday, several NFL players and 2011 draft choices were all described as "hosting" an "official Miami launch party' for a porn star convention. The players, including Chicago bears safety Major Wright, are named and pictured in their official NFL team uniforms. The same advertisement promises a "PORN STAR EXXXTRAVAGANZA" with several porn actresses depicted.
Below is the club's statement:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Club Play, South Beach, Florida- June 15, 2011: Club Play South Beach, one of the most successful nightclubs in the country and located on world famous South Beach, would like to set the record straight about the recent accusations that were made by the media, in which several stories have attempted to link together NFL players and Porn Stars. Club Play has become known as the hot spot for some of the biggest celebrities, entertainers and athletes in the world. In 2011, parties have been hosted by such celebrities as Chris Brown, Pitbull, Omega El Fuente, Rick Ross and have been attended by public figures including Sammy Sosa, Derrick Rose, Little Wayne and many more.
On May 20, 2011 Club Play South Beach was advertising multiple events including an NFL Takeover Affair, a T-Shirt companies' Release party as well as an Exxotica Expo 2011 kickoff party. The fact that the club has become a home away from home for many NFL players, Club Play will often invite these players to "host" a party when they come into town, meaning that they receive complimentary VIP service and can invite their friends and teammates to join them in celebrating their birthday or other special event. As a matter of fact, the entire "NFL Takeover" became a tag line for the club in sending a message to the public and the players that they are in support of the players during this time of uncertainly with the lockout.
Like many of their other Friday night parties, layering events is something that has become consistent, as athletes aren't the only ones who want to come through. Businesses nationwide all want to bring their events to Club Play's very well established Friday night in order to get publicity for their cause, and promote their own brand. For example, on Friday June 17, 2011 Club Play will be holding the celebration for Miami Heat star Udonis Haslem's Birthday Affair (as the Heat were in the playoffs when his actual birthday came along), and they are also celebrating Dimepiece Magazine's Five Year Anniversary Party and completely unrelated to the these, will be holding Young Chris's Mixtape Album Release Party. None of the events are affiliated with each other, although it is not impossible that some of the promoters will try to publish all events under one ad to attract a more diverse clientele.
That is exactly what happened with the May 20, 2011 event, as a promoter placed a single image that was sent by the Exottica event of a porn star alongside images of some of the players that were coming that night to further promote the fact that Club Play supports the NFL Players during the lockout. The General Manager of Club Play South Beach, Lia Ames, did indicate that the venue was investigating why the player images that were sent to the promoter by a "publicist" for the players included images that clearly had a team's logo on them, but was much more concerned about why anyone would try to link these players with porn stars. "Club Play's image has always been squeaky clean and the fact that there are even NFL players who are involved as investors in the club should help to point out that there is obviously something very wrong with these accusations. We have created an environment where all people can come out and enjoy South Beach responsibly, and are extremely sensitive to our athlete and celebrity clients due to the fact that they are always going to be scrutinized much heavier by the public", says Lia Ames.
Ms. Ames went on to say "the involvement of Exottica in that night was their attempt to gain publicity for their showcase weekend and at no point was either party acting in conjunction with the other. The Exottica event was at a South Beach convention center and had no portion of their event on Club Play premises and no endorsement or involvement was ever given or implied by any of the players who were listed as hosts."
The fact that Club Play is not the center of any investigation did not stop them from aggressively disputing the accusations that were made. "We care about all of our clients and especially those who have helped us to become so successful, and will do everything that we can to clear their names and make sure that the public in no way can misconstrue two completely separate events and make false accusations that these players would have anything to do with porn stars in any way" says General Manger, Lia Ames.