It’s been a few months since we’ve had a good, steamy controversy involving network TV and football. Thank goodness there’s ABC to fill that void. The latest cultural faux pas came during the pregame show of this week’s Monday Night Football, where Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens was shown in a skit with a scantily clad actress from ABC’s hit drama “Desperate Housewives.” After his seducer loses her towel and jumps into the arms of the football star, Owens agrees that he might be able to skip the kickoff.

Predictably, ABC quickly apologized for the promo the next day, and the NFL followed suit, saying that “while ABC may have gained attention for one of its other shows, the NFL and its fans lost.”

But NBC Sports writer Mike Celizic suggests that both parties may be crying crocodile tears.

“I watched Monday Night Football, and I’m offended and outraged,” Celizic writes. “My sensibilities, poor delicate things that they are, have been damaged beyond repair, and my children have doubtless been launched down the path to depravity, wickedness, sin and degradation.

“But it wasn’t because of that opening segment with Nicolette Sheridan and Terrell Owens. It was the hypocritical response of the NFL and ABC to the reaction to that steamy little house ad for ’Desperate Housewives’ that has my knickers in a knot.”

Of the apology by ABC, he adds: “Excuse me while I vomit. The statement suggests that the wizards who decided it would be great fun to have a naked woman approach a player much like a randy dog approaches your leg had no idea that anyone in America would be offended.”

We’ll set aside the fact that the NBC folks could have their own agenda in accusing their competition of conspiracy, and that media relish in making controversy. Yet indeed, one finds it difficult to imagine, in this post-Janet era, that ABC and the NFL would be so oblivious as to think that such a distasteful spot would pass by unnoticed.

Also somewhat strange is that they would promote the tie between football and “Desperate Housewives,” whose target audiences are, presumably, somewhat different. Or maybe not so strange, since apparently 40 percent of the show’s viewers are men. I’m not one of those 40 percent, but I find it hard to buy ABC’s remorse over a racy promo for a Sunday-night, “family-hour” show that doesn’t seem to be exactly seeping with wholesomeness itself.