JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A year removed from the Janet Jackson (search) debacle, the NFL (search) has come up with the perfect way to clean up its act at halftime of the Super Bowl (search): Hire a British knight to entertain.
Sir Paul McCartney (search) will be the only performer during the NFL's 12-minute extravaganza. He promises not to cause the same furor Jackson stirred up last season when Justin Timberlake tore open her top at the end of the show and revealed her bare breast — the infamous "wardrobe malfunction."
And so, the former Beatles star has come full circle. Considered among the most edgy entertainers in the world during the 1960s, he has now become the safe choice.
"I had a slight inkling that there might be something like that attached to it," McCartney said at a news conference Thursday. "That's OK. It's an honor to do it."
Before the game begins, "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson and John Fogerty will be performing. There will also be performances from Gretchen Wilson with the Charlie Daniels Band and Black Eyed Peas with Earth, Wind & Fire.
Starting player introductions will be read by Philadelphia native Will Smith and Boston native Michael Chiklis.
McCartney's play list — he has hundreds of songs to choose from — is a secret, although everything has been vetted and approved by the NFL to ensure he doesn't sing anything that might be offensive.
The 62-year-old icon, who was knighted in London nine years ago, joked about the possibility of exposing flesh during the halftime show.
"I can assure you I won't," McCartney said, "because I'll be naked."
Fox, which is televising the game, has opted against an eight-second delay of the telecast as a way of preventing something inappropriate from airing. Short delays on live events became much more popular in the aftermath of the Jackson affair.
"Basically, we're treating the Super Bowl as a news event," Fox spokesman Dan Hill said. "We don't believe in tape delaying news events."
Last year, CBS broadcast the game and the NFL farmed out the halftime show to MTV, which along with CBS is a subsidiary of parent company Viacom. The league was sorely disappointed.
The Jackson episode dominated conversation about the game for weeks afterward. It prompted congressional hearings, stricter Federal Communication Commission rules and triggered $550,000 in fines against the 20 CBS-owned stations that carried the game.
The NFL swore it would never give up control of its entertainment again. It hired producer Don Mischer, who has experience with the Emmys and other awards shows, political conventions and a past Super Bowl.
"We're not anticipating anything" going wrong, Mischer said. "But you never know. Live TV is live TV. Someone could do something."
The NFL is touting this show as one that keeps in line with the Super Bowl theme in Jacksonville, "Building Bridges." Few singers have done that better during the last 40 years than Sir Paul. Three years ago, in the Super Bowl following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, McCartney appeared during the pregame show and sang a new song, "Freedom."
"It's peace, love, 'Come Together,' " McCartney said, when asked about his message. "That's as good a message as I can deliver."