Pro-family Groups Reject ABC's 'Phony' Apology for Monday Night Football Stunt

Pro-family groups are calling the “Monday Night Football” intro skit in which a naked actress jumped into the arms of an Eagles football player “inappropriate” and are hoping the Federal Communications Commission will take appropriate action.

The skit, filmed one week before it aired on Nov. 15, was intended to be a cross-promotion for ABC show “Desperate Housewives.” Actress Nicholette Sheridan is seen in a bath towel trying to seduce Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens into skipping the game against the Dallas Cowboys for her instead. He initially refuses but when she drops her towel, he smiles and she jumps into his arms. The camera shot shows her backside exposed from the waist up.

On Tuesday, ABC issued a statement of apology, saying “We have heard from many of our viewers about last night’s MNF opening segment and we agree that the placement was inappropriate. We apologize.”

Jan LaRue, chief counsel for Concerned Women for America, didn’t accept the "phony" apology.

“This is the weakest, most insincere apology in television history,” LaRue said in an article posted on the CWA Website. “ABC is couching its words so that it sounds like they are apologizing for airing the opening segment at the start of the program. The issue is not ‘placement,’ but airing tasteless and pornographic material when children are most likely in the audience.”

NFL also issued a statement calling the segment “inappropriate and unsuitable for our ‘Monday Night Football’ audience.”
“While ABC may have gained attention for one of its other shows, the NFL and its fans lost,” stated NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.

Michael Powell, chairman of the FCC, said, "I wonder if Walt Disney would be proud," referring to The Walt Disney Co.’s ownership of ABC. The FCC is currently reviewing complaints to determine whether the segment warrants a full investigation.

The Monday night incident isn’t the first time the NFL has run into trouble with the FCC during its games. During the Super Bowl halftime show, Janet Jackson’s breast-exposing stunt costed CBS $550,00.

Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute, called the ABC skit “a cynical ploy.”

“They knew they were going to get a lot of heat,” he said during a CWA broadcast, “but it would still increase viewership for ‘Monday Night Football’ so they were willing to take the heat. It sounds like a really calculated cynical undertaking.”

He added, “There are a lot of Christian NFL players out there who are probably very uncomfortable with this and I’m wondering when some of them will begin to speak up. I hope some people will step up to the plates in the NFL.”

LaRue said, “Folks who are rightly offended by this double insult should write and call ABC Sports and send a copy to the FCC.”

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council suggested in his daily e-mail update that the FCC “get tough with violators and start pulling licenses from the stations that air indecent programming.”