Presumably, the Fox network didn't hire a vision-impaired camera operator who couldn't know the image he was capturing for the control booth. Presumably, the director in the truck wasn't blind to the content he was choosing when he called for the "Number 3!" or whatever camera shot.
Fox Executive Producer Ed Goren told the Philadelphia Inquirer that a time code covered the screen where the shirt appeared in the production truck, thus blocking the director's view of the offending lettering. But even if that's true, millions of people caught that shot on television, and one has to assume that someone up and down the Fox chain of command also saw it.
Why didn't someone scream the message to the announcement booth that an immediate apology was in order? But no one at Fox seemed to mind. Not a word was said during, or after, the game.
A plodding three days later, after an uproar, Fox finally apologized -- sort of. Spokesman Dan Bell told the Associated Press that "it was unintentional, inadvertent, and we apologize." Unintentional? Inadvertent? It was nothing of the sort. Shades of the "wardrobe malfunction" excuse we heard after the Viacom/Janet Jackson show.
And there's another twist to this apology. Fox, like Viacom before it, really doesn't mean it when it apologizes. How do I know this? Lawyers for both networks have filed suit in federal court demanding the right to air unlimited obscene language at any time of day. How sincere is this "apology" if Fox is spending fortunes on legal bills to acquire the right to do this at will, over the public airwaves, in front of children, without consequences?
Obscenities, both visual and audible, airing during live sports programming are becoming far too routine because coaches, players and fans increasingly simply cannot behave in front of cameras and microphones. The problem would be solved -- immediately -- if networks like Fox would implement a simple five-second delay. But so long as these networks refuse to take this little step, they cannot claim that the subsequent airing of obscene programming is "inadvertent," and the standard "apology" after the fact rings hollow.