November 17, 2004
NEW YORK - ABC apologized Tuesday for a steamy intro to "Monday Night Football" after receiving complaints from viewers and the National Football League.
The spot featured a supposedly naked Nicollette Sheridan jumping into the arms of Terrell Owens.
Before the game, ABC showed the actress and the Philadelphia Eagles star in an empty locker room in an attempt to spoof the network hit "Desperate Housewives." Sheridan, who stars in the show, was wearing only a towel and provocatively asked Owens to skip the game for her.
After she dropped her towel, he smiled, agreed to be late for the contest and she jumped into his arms. Sheridan was shown only from behind and above the waist after she dropped the towel.
Then the shot cut to two more stars of "Desperate Housewives," Teri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman, watching the scene unfold on a television and commenting on desperate women.
"We have heard from many of our viewers about last night's `MNF' opening segment and we agree that the placement was inappropriate," ABC said. "We apologize."
The NFL called the intro "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," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.
The Eagles said they appreciated ABC apologizing for the segment.
"It is normal for teams to cooperate with ABC in the development of an opening for its broadcast," the team said. "After seeing the final piece, we wish it hadn't aired."
ABC has broadcast "Monday Night Football" with a 5-second delay this season, a precaution after Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" at February's Super Bowl halftime show - when Justin Timberlake ripped off part of Jackson's outfit, exposing her right breast to a TV audience of some 90 million. The game was broadcast on CBS, which is protesting a proposed record fine of $550,000 by the FCC.