PHILADELPHIA – While Terrell Owens would never say he’s sorry for his flashy touchdown celebrations, he did apologize Thursday to anyone offended by his role in a steamy segment with actress Nicollette Sheridan for the intro to “Monday Night Football.”

“I felt like it was clean, the organization felt like it was a clean skit and I think it just really got taken out of context with a lot of people and I apologize for that,” Owens said. “Personally I didn’t think it would have offended anyone and, if it did, I apologize.”

ABC and the Eagles also apologized this week, with the team saying it wished the titillating segment “hadn’t aired.”

The opening, which has generated complaints to ABC and the Federal Communications Commission, showed Sheridan (of the hit show “Desperate Housewives”) wearing only a towel and provocatively asking Owens to skip the game for her as the two stood alone in a locker room. She drops the towel and jumps into Owens’ arms.

Owens had no idea the intro would create such outrage.

“I thought it was a fun skit and that was it,” Owens said.

Owens, known for his outrageous touchdown celebrations, seemed to believe the skit was generating controversy because of his participation, not because of simulated nudity.

“Anything I get involved with, I’m obviously a target,” he said. “It happened.”

The sexually charged promo goes way beyond Owens, however. Reaction – are you ready for some controversy? has ranged from amusement to anger.

Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy found it racially offensive; Owens is black and Sheridan is white.

Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb wasn’t quite as vocal, saying he didn’t find the segment offensive and believed people were overreacting. Michael Powell, chairman of the FCC, questioned ABC’s judgment in airing the scene.

Even Rush Limbaugh, who made a racially charged critique of McNabb last season, chimed in on his radio show, saying he was “shocked” by the content, which was “too close to this Kobe Bryant situation for comfort.”

“I said, ‘What was it I did so wrong in the McNabb incident and they’re doing this, on “Monday Night Football?’ ” according to a transcript on Limbaugh’s Web site.

Eagles receiver Freddie Mitchell said Thursday it was difficult to know if Dungy was correct about the incident being “stereotypical” of black athletes without seeing reaction of the same promo with a white athlete. Mitchell also said the hoopla was magnified because of Owens’ participation.

“TO has a lot of haters out there that really hate him and want to see him do wrong, so they blow a lot of little stunts out of proportion,” Mitchell said.

Owens claimed he hadn’t heard any of Dungy’s reaction and wondered what all the fuss was about when kids can watch potentially offensive programming at the same time every night.

“I don’t think it’s any different than little kids watching “South Park” or “King of the Hill” or things of that nature,” Owens said. “Everybody knows the content surrounded by those shows. My thing is, what’s the difference?”

The difference is that most parents know the content of those shows and might try and keep their children away from the potty-mouthed cartoons. Parents have little control when something sexy spontaneously airs before a football game.

Then again, one should know by now that sex and sports go together like Owens and distractions. Just check out the close-up shots of scantily clad cheerleaders, ever-present ads for erectile disfunction or Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at February’s Super Bowl.

When asked if he was shocked the story made the front page of newspapers around the country, Owens quipped, “I always make the front page.”



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