"That won't happen this time."
That was Justin Timberlake's promise Sunday night, discussing his just-announced Super Bowl LII halftime show appearance – and whether he might pop open Janet Jackson's bra in front of a national TV audience again.
Nipplegate is arguably the most controversial Super Bowl halftime moment of all time, sparking a countrywide conversation about nudity on TV, a federal FCC investigation, and a court case that nearly worked it's way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Can you imagine if Twitter existed back then?)
So it wouldn't be shocking if the NFL had maybe banned Jackson from ever showing up on the big game's stage again. Though it turns out they haven't.
TMZ asked the NFL and was told Jackson is not banned from the Super Bowl halftime show.
If that's the case, Timberlake should be on the phone, right now, trying to get Jackson to commit to a U.S. Bank Stadium appearance on Feb. 4, 2018.
And the NFL should be 100 percent behind it.
Why it makes sense
Reuniting the infamous 2004 Nipplegate duo would be an enormous win for the NFL.
Close your eyes and imagine the Today Show or Jimmy Kimmel Live the next day – everybody would be talking about Jackson and Timberlake, back on the biggest stage possible again 14 years after an infamous performance. It'd be one of the top stories on news websites, and be mentioned within the first 10 minutes of any TV news broadcast.
In fact, Jackson coming out to perform with Timberlake might be the only pre-planned moment that could lead to as many headlines as the football game itself.
And it doesn't even have to be good. A bad performance would be just as buzzworthy. Plus, the NFL gets to come off as the fun, cool, "We don't take ourselves too seriously" league by letting it happen.
Will people replay the Nipplegate clip? Absolutely. But that's been adjudicated by the public at this point, everyone has made up their minds. It won't do any damage to the NFL's brand.
And here's another good reason for Jackson might do it: she loves Minnesota
During her 2015 tour, she told the crowd at Target Center it "feels so good to be home."
This is where she kickstarted her career, with the help of producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. She recorded her Grammy-winning album Control at Flyte Tyme Productions Studio in the Twin Cities. Her follow-up hits Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814, Janet, The Velvet Rope and All For You were also recorded here.
So if there's ever a time and place to take a risk and acknowledge one of her most (in)famous moments, it's in Minnesota – a place she's clearly comfortable in. (We're going to ignore that she skipped over us for her current tour. Chalk it up to a scheduling issue.)
So Justin: Bring sexxy back, bring Janet back. And NFL, let us all have this moment again. It'll be worth it, I promise.