By NEIL HAYES
Major Wright issued an apology after his likeness was used on a promotion that included the world's largest gathering of porn stars, even if the general manager of the South Beach, Fla., nightclub advertising the event claims it was all a misunderstanding.
"I authorized my name and likeness to be used in conjunction with other NFL players at a party I believed to be hosted by other NFL players," Wright said in a statement released by his agent, Mitch Frankel. "I had no knowledge and never would have given authority for my name or likeness to be associated with Exotica Expo 2011."
As first reported by WLS-Channel 7, Wright appeared in an on-line ad for last month's Exxxotica Expo 2011 while wearing a Bears uniform, which is a violation of NFL licensing rules if done without the league permission. Club Play general manager Lia Ames said the flier promoted three separate and unrelated club events occurring on the same night.
Ames said Wednesday she personally apologized to Wright for any misunderstanding. She also said the popular club, which relies on promotional materials to draw customers, will avoid potentially misleading promotions in the future.
Meanwhile, Frankel said Wright never gave the club permission to use his likeness while
wearing an NFL uniform.
"In this case, the flier encompasses all the events to show people all the attractions that are at the club -- whatever interests you you can come for," Ames said. "It doesn't mean the NFL players came for the porn stars."
Former Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget, who was selected by the San Diego Chargers in the first round of April's NFL Draft, also appeared in the ad. Wright and Liuget are both from the Miami area. Liuget and the other players appearing in the ad issued similar apologies.
The Exxxotica Expo is scheduled to continue next month in Rosemont.
"I am deeply disappointed that my name and likeness was manipulated by the promoters of this event," Wright said in the statement. "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 judgement with people I associated myself with in the future."