The National Football League says ABC's Monday Night Football intro Nov. 15 was inappropriate. ABC agrees and has apologized.
Looking to get more promotional bang for its new hit, ABC put Desperate Housewives star Nicollette Sheridan in a provocative opening where, clad only in a towel, she tries to seduce Philadelphia Eagles star Terrell Owens. Owens protests that he is ready for some football until the lovely lady drops her towel and throws herself at him--discreetly filmed but the import is clear--and Owens decides the gridiron will have to wait.
The show is a sometimes steamy look at four housewives and the people they love, hate, sleep with and look after.
“ABC’s opening was inappropriate and unsuitable for our Monday Night Football audience," said the NFL in a statement. “While ABC may have gained attention for one of its other shows, the NFL and its fans lost.”
"The placement of last night's Monday Night Football opening segment was inappropriate. We Apologize," said Mark Mandel, VP, media Relations, ABC Sports.
League spokesman Brian McCarthy volunteered that ABC would continue to be a viable partner through the end of next season, when their contract expires. Fox and CBS were able to renew their deals early, but Disney and the NFL have not come to an agreement on the Sunday night cable or Monday night broadcast packages. When asked whether the intro would have any affect on those negotiations, McCarthy declined comment.
The NFL doesn't have control over the MNF openings, but it has become increasingly vigilant about protecting its brand. Following last year's Super Bowl, the NFL scrapped a Pro Bowl halftime performance by JC Chasez, like Jackson's co-hort Justin Timberlake a former member of 'N Sync, in favor of a hula demonstration and well-clothed singers.
The NFL has since reasserted control over the Super Bowl half-time entertainment, including naming its own producer, Don Mischer, to "execute the NFL's vision." The NFL conceded it had dropped the ball by not monitoring closely enough MTV's production of last year's show.
Broadcasting & Cable Newsletter
The smarter way to stay on top of broadcasting and cable industry. Sign up below
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.