NFL edits out explicit Rolling Stones lyrics

Monday, February 6, 2006

NEW YORK — They may not have flashed any body parts — except for Mick Jagger’s well-toned stomach — but the Rolling Stones made ABC glad editors were on duty for the Super Bowl halftime show.

Two sexually explicit lyrics were excised from the rock legends’ performance yesterday. The only song to avoid the editor was “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” a 41-year-old song about sexual frustration.

In “Start Me Up,” the show’s editors silenced one word, a reference to a woman’s sexual sway over a dead man. The lyrics for “Rough Justice” included a synonym for rooster that the network also deemed worth cutting out.

ABC was the first network to impose a five-second tape delay on the Super Bowl, although it said the changes to the Stones’ show were made by the NFL and its producers.

According to USA TODAY, NFL officials, not ABC, muted Jagger’s microphone when he sang the offending lyrics. An NFL spokesman told the newspaper that the band knew this would occur.

“We agreed upon it earlier this week. They were fine with it,” said Brian McCarthy. “If we had missed it, then ABC had five seconds to hit the button.”

(Rolling Stones spokeswoman Fran Curtis said Feb. 7 that the band may have known about the league’s plan, but that doesn’t mean they liked it. Band members, she said, thought the censorship of their songs was “absolutely ridiculous and completely unnecessary.”)

ABC Sports and ESPN spokesman Bill Hofheimer told USA TODAY: “There was a five-second delay in place for the entire game and halftime. But we didn’t need it.”

The newspaper reported that the biggest surprise for the show’s producers came not during halftime but during the pregame performance when Stevie Wonder issued a appeal for peace: “Now is truly a time for love. Let us come together before we’re annihilated.”

McCarthy told the newspaper that Wonder’s statement (which also may have been a reference to his new album, A Time For Love) surprised, but did not worry, officials. “Were we surprised? Yes. Concerned? No.”

The sensitivity to the show’s content no doubt reflects a lingering reaction to Janet Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction two years ago that resulted in an FCC probe and calls for Congress to increase indecency fines.

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