"The NFL office works on behalf of the clubs to protect their intellectual property rights in matters such as this" said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy after receiving a copy of an ad first disclosed by the ABC7 I-Team. The ad for last month's Exxxotica Expo 2011 in Miami showed photos of five NFL players in their team uniforms. Among them was Bears safety Major Wright, a Miami native.
"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" said McCarthy.
NFL involvement comes as the next Exxxotica Expo prepares to open in Rosemont. Said to be the world's largest gathering of porn stars, Bears officials may keep an eye on the "love and sex expo." It is being held for the first time in suburban Chicago after drawing tens of thousands of porn film fans to similar events in Miami, Los Angeles and New Jersey the past few years.
When Rosemont lost its chance at a casino, the village retooled its image as a family-friendly entertainment destination. Next month though, at the convention center named for the late Rosemont founder Donald Stephens, the under-18 crowd will be unwelcome as the Exxxotica 2011 love and sex show opens on July 8 with 150 exhibitors, dozens of seminars on sex play and continuous stage shows.
A spokesman for Rosemont says there have been a couple of similar, previous events, but Exxxotica is considered to be the largest, premier event attracting the world's top porn stars.
In an ad for the show in Miami last month, what was billed as an official launch party featured porn stars and NFL players, including Chicago Bears safety Major Wright, billed as one of the party hosts.
Wright's photo in a Bears uniform troubles the Bears' front office. Team spokesman Jim Christman tells the I-Team that "this is an improper use of team marks and the Chicago Bears are not associated with this ad."
Christman said that "many times players themselves are unaware of the violation and companies simply pull images and make ads not realizing they are in violation."
While Wright could not be reached, he is a fixture in Miami's South Beach party scene, and he appears in ads and videos as the host of similar club events.
Also listed in the Miami ad last month were several top NFL draftees from this year, including Corey Liuget, who was a first round pick of the San Diego Chargers. Liuget did not respond to a request for information and a spokesman for the San Diego Chargers declined to comment on Tuesday evening.
Exxxotica's producer says he tried to get his event at McCormick Place a few years ago but that Chicago officials said no way.
A village spokesman for Rosemont said they plan to put Exxxotica in a corner of the convention center so as not to arouse the public.