NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — “Are you ready for some football?”
Well, yes. We are.
But Monday nights will be without Hank Williams Jr.’s familiar refrain.
The country singer and ESPN each took credit for the decision Thursday morning to no longer use his classic intro to “Monday Night Football.”
The network had pulled the intro for this week’s game after the country singer used an analogy to Adolf Hitler in discussing President Barack Obama on Fox News on Monday morning.
Williams issued a statement Monday night insisting his remarks were misunderstood, then apologized Tuesday.
“We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams Jr,” ESPN said. “We appreciate his contributions over the past years. The success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games and that will continue.”
The network said it informed Williams of the move Thursday morning.
But on his official website, Williams said: “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.”
Regardless of whose decision it was, one of sports’ and entertainment’s most visible partnerships is over. The song had been a “Monday Night Football” staple since 1989 and survived the game’s switch of networks from ABC to cable a few years ago.
It all started when Williams, unprompted, said of Obama’s golf outing with House Speaker John Boehner: “It’d be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu.”
“Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade told Williams he didn’t understand the analogy. “Well, I’m glad you don’t, brother,” Williams responded. “Because a lot of people do. They’re the enemy.”
Asked to clarify who he meant by “the enemy,” Williams said, “Obama! Biden!”
Anchor Gretchen Carlson later said to him, “You used the name of one of the most hated people in all of the world to describe, I think, the president.” Williams replied, “Well, that is true. But I’m telling you like it is.”
Who should pen the next MNF anthem? Sound off in the comments below…
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