ESPN has permanently dropped Hank Williams Jr. from its “Monday Night Football” opening, the network says.
Or, if you ask Williams, he quit. Either way, the NFL-centric version of his song “All My Rowdy Friend,” which has been part of “MNF” since the early 1990s, won’t be heard going forward.
ESPN pulled Williams’ opening from Monday’s (Oct. 3) Colts-Buccaneers game after Williams appeared on “Fox and Friends” that morning and said that President Obama’s June “golf summit” with House Speaker John Boehner was like “Hitler playing golf with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.”
Williams later sort of apologized, but on Thursday he and ESPN dropped each other.
“We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams Jr.,” ESPN’s statement reads. “We appreciate his contributions over the past years. The success of ‘Monday Night Football’ has always been about the games and that will continue.”
Williams gave his take on the breakup on his website: “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.”
There’s no word yet on whether ESPN will seek a replacement for Williams’ opening. “Monday Night Football” still uses the instrumental “Heavy Action” theme as well, so that could become more prominent.