Former president Bill Clinton -- during his last term in office -- urged Americans to have "a candid conversation on the state of race relations." OK.
ABC's "Monday Night Football," in a silly attempt at cross-promotion, opened with a sexually suggestive skit involving "Desperate Housewives'" Nicollette Sheridan and Philadelphia Eagles' Terrell Owens.
In the skit, Owens, in full football gear, heads out to play, only to be seduced in the empty locker room by a towel-clad Sheridan. When Sheridan drops the towel, Owens says, "Aw hell, the team's going to have to win without me," and she jumps into Owens' arms. The camera shot the towel-less Sheridan from behind, above the waist.
The broadcast aired at 6:00 p.m. on the West Coast, dinner hour when families and their children gather to watch the game. As with Janet Jackson's Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction," many saw something they neither expected nor wanted. But ABC immediately apologized. The NFL also quickly offered regrets, calling the incident "inappropriate and unsuitable for our 'Monday Night Football' audience." The Philadelphia Eagles issued a statement: "It is normal for teams to cooperate with ABC in the development of an opening for its broadcast. After seeing the final piece, we wish it hadn't aired." Owens, for his part, said he agreed to participate in the skit because, "I can't play football forever, so I'm trying to work on the Hollywood thing."
What does this have to do with race?
Well, Indianapolis Colts Coach Tony Dungy, a black man, threw down the race card. "I am very disappointed in ABC for what took place on Monday night," said Dungy. "I've got a 12-year-old that does his homework early on Monday to watch that, and I was very, very disappointed." So far, so good. But then Dungy charged "Monday Night Football"/ABC with one count of racial insensitivity. "To me that's the first thing I thought of as an African-American," said Dungy. "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 [coaches] Bill Parcells or Andy Reid or one of the owners involved in that."