Hank Williams Jr.’s famous catchphrase — “Are you ready for some football?” — will no longer be featured on ESPN’s Monday Night Football telecasts, but the singer and the network disagree on who made the decision.
The decision was announced Thursday (Oct. 6) amid a controversy that began Monday during an interview on Fox News’ Fox & Friends when he compared President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner playing golf together to “Hitler playing golf with [Israeli leader Benjamin] Netanyahu.” He also called Obama and Vice President Biden “the enemy.”
ESPN responded by dropping him from the prerecorded opening segment of this week’s Monday Night Football telecast.
In Thursday’s statement from ESPN, network officials said, “We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams Jr. We appreciate his contributions over the past years. The success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games, and that will continue.”
Also on Thursday, however, Williams posted a message on his website saying he chose to part ways with Monday Night Football.
“After reading hundreds of emails, I have made MY decision,” he wrote. “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.”
Williams’ Monday Night Football theme song is based on his 1984 hit, “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight.” He introduced the adapted lyrics on the telecast in 1989.
In a statement released earlier this week by his publicist, Williams said his comment about Obama and Hitler was misconstrued.
“Some of us have strong opinions and are often misunderstood,” he said. “My analogy was extreme — but it was to make a point. I was simply trying to explain how stupid it seemed to me — how ludicrous that pairing was. They’re polar opposites, and it made no sense. They don’t see eye-to-eye and never will. I have always respected the office of the president.”
He added, “Working class people are hurting — and it doesn’t seem like anybody cares. When both sides are high-fiving it on the ninth hole when everybody else is without a job, it makes a whole lot of us angry.”