ESPN Ends Relationship With Hank Williams Jr.

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Hank Williams Jr. and his rowdy friends are no longer welcome on Monday Night Football.

ESPN announced Thursday that it will part ways with singer Hank Williams Jr., who has performed the Monday Night Football introduction since 1989.

The move comes days after Williams Jr. appeared to liken the President of the United States to Adolf Hitler during an interview on a cable news show.

In a statement released Thursday, ESPN said that while the company appreciated Williams Jr.’s contributions over the years, the “success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games and that will continue” (ESPN, 10/6).

The singer countered with a statement of his own on his personal website. Indicating that he believed ESPN violated his First Amendment rights, Williams Jr. said he made the decision to leave ESPN and take his song with him (hankjr.com, 10/6).

ESPN will replace the Williams, Jr. theme with the “football-themed tease open” the network previously used at the very beginning of MNF telecasts.

Monday night telecasts will now open with a “quick scene set highlighting the atmosphere” at the stadium, followed by the typical preview segments with broadcasters Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski.

ESPN has not made any decision yet on whether to hire a new singer for next season.

(Information from ESPN; link to Hank Williams Jr. website from NBC Sports)

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  • Paulsen

    In anticipation of potential debate surrounding this issue, let me lay down some ground rules ahead of time:

    * No profanity, even mild.
    * No messages in all capital letters.
    * No personal attacks directed at other commenters.
    * No personal attacks aimed at Hank Williams Jr., ESPN personalities, President Obama, Speaker Boehner, etc. Obviously, it’s okay to take issue with anything these parties have done, but I ask that you keep it respectful and clean.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Jeffrey

      I am with you on this isssue Paulsen, but I am afraid the toothpaste is already out of the tube. Too high a percentage of viewers are perceived by the networks as wanting and needing that sort of thing. I don’t.

  • krazymed

    If I’m Fox, I wondering if I’m secretly happy that I sabotaged a competitor’s NFL coverage by getting ESPN’s lead singer to say something inflammatory on air.

    On the other hand, I think ESPN has been trying to get rid of that theme for years, they now have a way to do it that doesn’t make them come off as the bad guy.

    I do shudder a bit, though, if ESPN tries to find a new singer for the MNF open. You know, like the way they tried to find a new NBA open…

    • Paulsen

      I would hope that ESPN (and NBC as well) would start to move away from the use of pop stars on sporting events.

  • Chad

    Can I ask a question on ESPN here, they got rid of Hank WIlliams JR for comparing Obama to Hitler, but didn’t one of their own in Jemele Hill compare somebody to Hitler in one of her writings, I think from the Celtics, and she just go suspended.

    If I remember right, how does she still have a job, but Hank is gone.