Are you ready for some more controversy involving Philadelphia Eagles receiver Terrell Owens?
The opening of ABC's Monday Night Football game between the Eagles and Dallas Cowboys featured a sexy take-off skit starring Owens and three members of the popular "Desperate Housewives" team. "Housewives" has sparked a network resurgence, but the skit sparked protests from viewers.
On Tuesday, ABC Sports and the National Football League released statements agreeing that the skit should not have aired.
The NFL, still sensitive from the Janet Jackson Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction," was not happy.
"ABC's opening was inappropriate and unsuitable for our Monday Night Football audience," the league's statement said. "While ABC may have gained attention for one of its other shows, the NFL and its fans lost."
ABC was contrite.
"We have heard from many of our viewers about last night's MNF opening segment, and we agree that the placement was inappropriate," ABC Sports said in the statement. "We apologize."
Though it was a cleverly written piece, ABC should have known it was asking for trouble with such a racy bit before a football game in the post-Jackson era. Unlike Jackson's live Super Bowl incident, the "Housewives" skit was filmed in advance. Presumably, someone had to give approval for it to air even though the audience for the game includes parents watching with their young children. And ABC certainly has to be aware that "Housewives" has been criticized by conservative groups.
In the skit, "Housewives" star Nicollette Sheridan, who plays seductive divorcee Edie Britt, was wearing a towel inside the Eagles' locker room and engaging in some double entendres with Owens. Asked what she was doing in the locker room, Sheridan told Owens, "My house burned down and I needed to take a long, hot shower." (In the Sunday night series, Edie's house was accidentally burned down by her neighbor Susan Mayer, played by Teri Hatcher.)
In the skit, Owens remained focused on the game against Dallas, but Sheridan eventually got him to unravel by saying she loves him.
"Then how about you tell me what's buried underneath that pool?" replied Owens, asking about one of the series' mysteries. Sheridan declined to tell Owens, who prepared to leave for the game until she dropped her towel.
"Aw hell, the team is going to have to win this one without me," said Owens as the actress jumped into his arms, her bare back visible.
Cut to Hatcher and another "Housewives" star, Felicity Huffman, who were wondering why anyone would watch a show like the one being put on by Owens and Sheridan.
"I know what we should watch," added Hatcher, before they both asked, "Are you ready for some football?" and the theme played.
A Channel 7 staffer Tuesday morning said she was unaware of any protest calls being made to the local ABC affiliate.
The timing of what may become known as the Towel Foul is even more surprising consider that ABC affiliates covering almost one-third of the country declined to run the Steven Spielberg film "Saving Private Ryan" on Veterans Day because of language issues that made them fear the reaction of the FCC.
That bit of censorship and the impact of "moral values" on the recent presidential election should have reminded ABC Sports executives that these are super-sensitive times.
By the way, Owens put on a real show during the game, scoring three touchdowns in a 49-21 Eagles victory.