Daniel Doherty
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That’s to say, his “indefinite” suspension might really be, um, indefinite:

A source close to the show tells FOX411 that even if Robertson apologized, at this point, A&E is done with him.

But can the ratings juggernaut really go on without its central character, the man who presides over the family and leads the dinner time prayers?

"All shows run their course. But this still has at least another season or two in it," the insider said. "Granted, the overall feeling of uninhibited love that this country has had for the show and brand will likely start to turn a bit."

According to our source, given that "Duck Dynasty" boasts such a big cast, losing a cast member won't prevent them from moving ahead with the popular series, even if it ends up being fashioned as more of a "spin-off." But the creative team still faces some major problems as Phil is ultimately the leader of the family and the source of many "words of wisdom" parlayed to the grandkids. He is also the founder of the multi-million dollar Duck Commander business the show features, and thus his absence is likely going to hurt.

No need to engage in hypotheticals here. The Robertsons released a statement last night averring that if Phil isn’t brought back, the Robertson family “cannot imagine the show going forward”:

We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support. The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E's decision. We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word. While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Phil would never incite or encourage hate.We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty. Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.

Full disclosure: I’ve never seen the show before so I can't judge it on the merits. But something like 14 million Americans tune in to watch it every single week. Thus if the show does get cancelled -- and indeed it might if both parties can’t reach some sort of an agreement -- I suspect it will be the network holding the short-end of the stick, not the Robertsons.

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Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography