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)