After Janet Jackson's 2004 "Wardrobe malfunction," the NFL drew the ire of the FCC and Americans disgusted by the show's disregard for the broad audience of the Super Bowl, including families and other viewers who would find Jackson and Timberlake's behavior inappropriate. The NFL publicly denounced the show's climax and producers; MTV. To avoid the same problem, subsequent Super Bowl halftime shows featured older rock performers like Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen. This year the show returned to pop diva performers.
Looks like we can expect another seven years of old rock stars.
(Related: New York Giants win the Super Bowl)
While the show's main performer, Madonna, remained tame, singer M.I.A. made her presence known, flipping the bird to the camera and millions of viewers at home:
You can also see the obscene hand gesture at about the (0:09) mark below:
The NFL and NBC wasted little time in responding.
"The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing and we apologize to our fans," said Brian McCarthy, spokesman for the NFL, which produced Madonna's halftime show.
The risque moment came during the biggest TV event of the year. The screen briefly went blurred after M.I.A.'s gesture in what was a late attempt - by less than a second - to cut out the camera shot.
"The NFL hired the talent and produced the halftime show," NBC spokesman Christopher McCloskey said. "Our system was late to obscure the inappropriate gesture and we apologize to our viewers."
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story has been updated.