By Gilbert Cruz
December 11, 2006 at 12:00 PM EST

There once was a time when Prince seemed to me the epitome of sexy, risque music. I was 3 years old when Purple Rain came out, and although I never listened to that album beginning to end until this year, the idea of Prince’s songs and the idea of Prince as a performer always loomed large in my mind.

Which is why it’s sort of a bummer to hear the news that he’ll be the halftime act at this year’s Super Bowl, following hot on the heels of old fogeys Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones — which seems to indicate that maybe he is now an old fogey himself.

But we didn’t need the NFL to tell us that — not since our friend Simon beat ’em to the punch. Prince’s appearance on American Idol earlier this year was surely a boon for record sales but, I think, bad for his image (I know everyone and their mother is a fan of this show, but Prince always seemed a little more anti-establishment than that; this is the guy who left a major-label contract and money to start his own means of putting out music). Then, there was last month’s news that he would start performing Friday and Saturday night shows at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas, a la Wayne Newton/Celine Dion/other sorts of pop culture punchlines. And now the Super Bowl.

One thing we know for sure, however, is that there’s not going to be any problems with the FCC this time around, for there’s no way a now-devout Jehovah’s Witness (like I said, Purple Rain came out a long time ago, back when Prince was anything but “safe”) is going to do anything fine-worthy, definitely nothing like this. Do you PopWatchers agree with me about Prince’s decline? Is this news going to make you any more or any less likely to watch the Super Bowl halftime show this year? Who would you sub in his place?

addCredit(“Prince: Jesse Grant/”)