For those who watched the ESPN telecast of Monday Night Football, there was a familiar voice and staple of the show missing as part of the introduction.
“Are you ready for some football?,” which we have heard Hank Williams Jr. sing for more than 20 years was not part of the broadcast Monday night before the Tampa Bay–Indianapolis matchup.
The network decided to pull it after Williams, a famous country singer, compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler during Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” on Monday morning. Williams said of Obama playing golf with House Speaker John Boehner: “It’d be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu.”
Williams, who made the comment unprovoked, was given a chance to clarify his statement during the broadcast and he did himself no favors the second time around. “They’re the enemy,” he went on to say. By “they” he was referring to Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
ESPN quickly sought to distance itself from Williams’s comparison of Obama to one of the most hated men in the world.
“While Hank Williams Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize that he is closely linked to our company through the opening to Monday Night Football," the network said in a statement. “We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result we have decided to pull the opening from tonight’s telecast.”
But what hasn’t been clarified yet is if Williams’s catchy tune, which has been part of the Monday Night Football telecast since 1989, was suspended just for the Tampa Bay–Indianapolis game or if it is a permanent move. If so, songwriters will have to act fast.
In the meantime, Williams, who apparently has a connection with the Tea Party, went into damage control Monday as his image took a battering.
“Some of us have strong opinions and are often misunderstood,” Williams said through his publicist. “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.”
“Every time the media brings up the Tea Party it’s painted as racist and extremists — but there’s never a backlash — no outrage to those comparisons,” Williams’s statement continued. “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. Something has to change. The policies have to change.”
This report has information obtained from the Associated Press and ESPN.
(Photo: Mark Hirsch/GettyImages)