NFL attorneys are investigating an advertisement that featured photos of multiple NFL players, in their uniforms, for a pornography expo.
The ad, which was posted in May for the Exxxotica Expo 2011 in Miami, showed pictures of five active players: Chiefs DBs Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry, Texans CB Kareem Jackson, Raiders WR Jacoby Ford and Bears SS Major Wright. The players are listed as hosts of the party, along with some adult entertainers.
ABC-7 News in Chicago contacted NFL spokesman Brian McCarthey about the ad.
"The NFL office works on behalf of the clubs to protect their intellectual property rights in matters such as this," McCarthy told the TV station. "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."
The ad also listed three 2011 draft choices — Chargers DT Corey Liuget, Dolphins RB Daniel Thomas and Ravens RB Anthony Allen — as players scheduled to attend, though their photos were not shown.
The way we see it
The primary issue is not the players hosting or being involved in the Expo, as that does not break any league rules. It is the event using the players' images, in their uniforms, without the league's consent. The NFL takes its image very seriously and only lets primary advertisers use the likeness of the teams and logos, so there could be a serious trademark issue due to this advertisement.