ESPN Cuts Ties With Hank Williams Jr
Hank Williams Jr. and his iconic theme song will not return to ESPN's "Monday Night Football," the network announced Thursday.
In the wake of Williams using an analogy involving Adolf Hitler and President Barack Obama to make a political point on the Fox News Channel, Williams' "All My Rowdy Friends" will no longer be part of the MNF opening.
"We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams, Jr," ESPN said in a statement. "We appreciate his contributions over the past years. The success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games and that will continue."
On his own website, Williams said he was the one who made the decision:
After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision. By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE. It's been a great run.
In an interview Monday on Fox News' "Fox & Friends," Williams, unprompted, said of Obama's outing on the links with House Speaker John Boehner: "It'd be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu."
Asked to clarify, Williams said, "They're the enemy," adding that by "they" he meant Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
ESPN pulled Williams' opening to Monday night's Indianapolis-Tampa Bay game and issued a statement saying: "While Hank Williams, Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize that he is closely linked to our company through the open to Monday Night Football. We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight's telecast."