Desperately Seeking Adult Football Viewers

To use football parlance, it looks like another turnover for network television.

The NFL and ABC have apologized for a cheeky skit which ran at the beginning of ABC's "Monday Night Football" telecast, which featured "Desperate Housewives"' Nicolette Sheridan and the Philadelphia Eagles' Terrell Owens. Sheridan - in a towel and nothing else -- tempted Owens not to play against the Dallas Cowboys so he could instead spend some time with her.

With Sheridan in character and Owens playing a fictional version of himself, this had the appearance of fun and fiction. So, I say no foul, no 15 yards for holding, no roughing the passer. (Okay, I'll stop here.)

Interestingly, the marketing departments of either ABC primetime or ABC Sports didn't produce the segment. The "MNF" production team produced the bit.



The NFL was pissed, considering some nine months before it was apologizing for a CBS Super Bowl half time show that featured a real-time naked breast of Janet Jackson.

Perhaps "MNF" producers could have been more careful. After all, ABC and sister network ESPN, is in the middle of contract negotiations with the league.

But examining this further, the whole episode is in keeping with the "Desperate Housewives" playful and adult sexual suggestions. Some weeks back, Teri Hatcher's character lost her towel while having an argument with her ex-husband. Primetime audiences know the score.

The NFL apologized to all its viewers, and reading between the lines, that seems to want to include children. This was the same mode of thinking during the Super Bowl -- where the NFL also asked for forgiveness. Now the Super Bowl's daylong festivities, including the game itself, is seen as 'family viewing.'

But this shouldn't be the case for a regular season primetime game. Children aren't watching and aren't typical viewers during this time period.

And how is football "family" viewing anyway? Football, next to boxing, is the most violent of any regularly scheduled network professional sports. This primetime fare is adult viewing, and should be treated as such.

So it's not that far fetched - again - for networks with football games to give viewers the proper content companion in primetime.

Football viewers must have their sex with their violence - even if it's the desperate fictional kind.

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