The Hank Williams Jr. song that has opened “Monday Night Football” for the past 20 years was not part of last night’s Indianapolis-Tampa Bay game. The move came after ESPN announced its decision to pull Williams’s song for the game after he compared President Barack Obama to Hitler on “Fox and Friends” Monday morning. It’s unclear if the decision will be permanent.
Williams’s song “All My Rowdy Friends” has been the theme song of “Monday Night Football” on both ABC and ESPN since 1991.
Williams told the hosts of “Fox and Friends” that he thought Speaker of the House John Boehner playing golf with President Obama in June was like “Hitler playing golf with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu … In the shape this country is in?”
When Brian Kilmeade, one of the co-hosts, said he didn’t understand the analogy, Williams clarified his point: “I’m glad you don’t, brother, because a lot of people do. They’re the enemy.” Asked who, Williams said: “Obama. And Biden. Are you kidding? The Three Stooges.”
Immediately after the show ended its satellite interview with Williams, co-host Gretchen Carlson said: “I just want to say we disavow any of those comments and analogies he made, at least I do.”
ESPN said in a statement: ”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.”
Williams has also issued a statement through his publicists:
Some of us have strong opinions and are often misunderstood. 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. 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.
Williams is no stranger to political controversy. In 2008, he campaigned for Sen. John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin. At one point he changed the words of his song, “Family Tradition,” to criticize Obama and the Democrats for the financial crisis.