It's been two years since Janet Jackson's so-called "Wardrobe Malfunction" at the Super Bowl shamed the NFL and network TV (for a moment or two) into thinking through how they would deal with a large segment of America objecting to immorality coming into their homes from the tube.
The Super Bowl has been the most-watched TV event of the year, every year, since 1995; Nielsen reported that this year's game was the most-watched by percentage of TV-watching homes (41.6 percent) since 2000. In many homes, the whole family is in front of the set, and in the home cities of the contending teams, it's even bigger. In Pittsburgh, even the family dog was probably propped in front of the set wearing his Jerome Bettis jersey.
Since the raunchy Janet Jackson spectacle, the NFL has turned from the young and irresponsible to the old living monuments of rock at the Super Bowl halftime show, first Paul McCartney, and now the Rolling Stones, prompting half-time debate about whether these retirement-age rockers can still relive the glory days, or whether we're all just ready to grade them on a curve. Even so, ABC deserves credit for instituting a five-second delay -- common for "Monday Night Football," but not the Big Game -- to make sure the year's largest television audience, full of children, didn't get any unwelcome surprises.
The delay does nothing to impair the excitement of the game broadcast, as it already takes several seconds for the broadcast signal to beam from the football field to living rooms across the country. But it does prevent profanity from players or coaches or rock stars from going out to the year's biggest audience. (It doesn't prevent cursing at the referees at home. Lack of restraint on that front was understandable coming from the Seattle fans.)