When the National Football League, skittish over the Justin Timberlake-Janet Jackson debacle, urged Timberlake bandmate JC Chasez to tone down his halftime act at this Sunday's Pro Bowl, he agreed to change his tune. But now that he's been barred from the show altogether, he's changing his tune regarding his cooperative attitude toward the NFL. On Wednesday, the 'N Syncer said he was disappointed to be benched but added, ''I've told the NFL I understand the pressure that they are under since the Super Bowl.'' The next day, however, he blitzed the NFL with a long rant, saying he'd rejected even the consolation offer of singing the National Anthem before the game. ''The NFL's shallow effort to portray my music as sexually indecent brings to mind another era when innocent artists were smeared with a broad brush by insecure but powerful people,'' Chasez said in a statement on Thursday. ''That's not the America I love. Nor is this the NFL I love. I'll sing the national anthem anytime, anywhere, but not for this NFL.''
Initially, Chasez was to sing ''Some Girls (Dance with Women),'' the single from his new album ''Schizophrenic.'' The NFL asked him to replace it with a slightly less salacious tune, ''Blowin' Me Up (With Her Love),'' but to drop the words ''horny'' and ''naughty'' from the lyrics. ''Under the circumstances, I understood their jitters, so I decided to accommodate their concern,'' Chasez said. ''I really wanted to try to help these guys out even though it is a huge compromise for me, as an artist, to go back and alter my work like that.'' But then the NFL decided that the singer's whole act, including female dancers, was ''over the top'' (according to an NFL statement) and replaced him with the hula-dance ensemble that was to have been the game's opening act. ''Imagine my shock and hurt to learn that the NFL is now saying the music we were talking about is offensive,'' Chasez said. ''The couple of songs off my 'Schizophrenic' album that I was going to sing at the Pro Bowl are in no way, shape or form indecent or crude. All of the songs I write and perform speak of the hunger inside each of us to belong and to be close and to be loved.''
The NFL has said that it had no advance knowledge that Timberlake was going to rip Jackson's top off at the Super Bowl. Still, Chasez says he's being unfairly penalized for the incident, which he blames on the NFL and his bandmate and Jackson. ''The NFL's leadership has clearly become so disoriented it has reduced itself to bashing me and my music to divert attention from the fact that the NFL screwed up at the Super Bowl,'' he said. ''I keep telling myself, 'I did not play at the Super Bowl. I was not even at the Super Bowl. But I'm the one who got beat at the Super Bowl.'''