Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said yesterday he was disappointed with ABC for airing a sexually suggestive opening to its "Monday Night Football" telecast this week.
"I wonder if Walt Disney would be proud," Powell said during an interview on CNBC. The ABC network is owned by the Walt Disney Co.
ABC has apologized publicly for the opening, which featured actress Nicollette Sheridan of the hit show "Desperate Housewives" in the Eagles' locker room before the kickoff. She was wearing only a towel as she invited Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens to skip the game. At the end of the skit, she dropped the towel and jumped into his arms. She was shown on camera only from behind and above the waist after dropping the towel.
"It would seem to me," Powell said, "that while we get a lot of broadcasting companies complaining about indecency enforcement, they seem to be continuing to be willing to keep the issue at the forefront, keep it hot and steamy in order to get financial gains and the free advertising it provides."
An FCC spokeswoman said the agency has received a number of complaints about the ABC broadcast, though she declined to say how many. The FCC will review them and decide whether to open an investigation that could result in a fine. The maximum indecency fine is $32,500 per incident.
Indianapolis Coach Tony Dungy added a new twist to the controversy yesterday, saying he found the skit racially offensive -- Owens is black, Sheridan is white.
"To me that's the first thing I thought of as an African American," Dungy said.
"I think it's stereotypical in looking at the players, and on the heels of the Kobe Bryant incident I think it's very insensitive. I don't think that they would have had [Dallas Coach] Bill Parcells or [Philadelphia Coach] Andy Reid or one of the owners involved in that."
* JAGUARS: Quarterback Byron Leftwich will be out of the lineup for a second game in a row because of his injured left knee. Backup David Garrard helped the club beat Detroit in overtime last weekend and will start Sunday against Tennessee.
* BUCCANEERS: Safety Dexter Jackson, the Super Bowl MVP for Tampa Bay two seasons ago, signed with the club. He has not played all season because of a back injury and was released from Arizona's injured reserve list last month.
Staff writer Mark Maske and news services contributed to this report.