Due to controversial comments about President Barack Obama made by Hank Williams Jr., ESPN pulled the “Are Your Ready” open from Monday Night’s game. The song that has opened “Monday Night Football” for 20 years and was absent from this week’s Indianapolis-Tampa Bay game.
Williams, who was called on the show to talk about the GOP candidates in 2012, compared Obama to Adolf Hitler on Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” show Monday morning.
Said ESPN 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.”
No decision has yet been made whether the song will be pulled permanently.
Williams issued a statement through his publicist, saying: “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.”
Williams, whose song “All My Rowdy Friends” has been the “Monday Night Football” theme on both ABC and ESPN since 1991, said on “Fox and Friends” that he thought House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner playing golf with President Obama “would be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu … In the shape this country is in?”
See the video here:
Boehner played golf with Obama in June at the height of the national budget debate in Washington, D.C.
Told by anchor Brian Kilmeade that he didn’t understand the analogy, Williams said: “I’m glad you don’t, brother, because a lot of people do. They’re the enemy.”
Asked who the enemy was, Williams said: “Obama. And Biden. Are you kidding? The Three Stooges.”
Williams, from Tennessee, has said he would run as a Republican for the U.S. Senate in 2012.
Later in the Fox interview with Williams, anchor Gretchen Carlson told Williams he used the name of one of history’s most hated men to describe the president.
“Well, that’s true. But I’m telling you like it is,” Williams said.
“Working-class people are hurting — and it doesn’t seem like anybody cares,” Williams continued in his statement. “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.”
RBR-TVBR observation: The move puts ESPN in a tough spot. By pulling the song, it may annoy a good number of football fans—especially those that agree with Williams’ full commentary. It could also anger Williams fans and Country music fans. On the other hand, the network had to do something. We think at this point pulling it for one game may be enough, considering Williams’ explanation and the full context of the statement.
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