ESPN is bringing back Hank Williams Jr. to open Monday Night football, some six years after the sports network fired him for making insensitive political remarks about then President Barack Obama. The news was reported by USAToday.
Williams will debut a new version of “All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night,” with the opening he’s most known for — “Are you ready for some football?” — before the Sept. 11 game between the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings.
Stephanie Druley, ESPN’s senior vice president of events and studio production, gushed about having Williams back. “It was the original,” she told USAToday. “It belongs to Monday Night Football. It really is about returning to what fans know. It’s a Monday night party and that’s what we’re all hoping to get back to.”
Williams Jr. was equally happy. “I hope there will be some happy people on Monday night again. It feels natural, fulfilling and satisfying at this point when you’ve kind of done it all.”
But there are bound to be questions. ESPN — which has come under some criticism of being too political — is bringing back a figure who criticized then House Speaker John Boehner for playing golf with then President Obama. He famously told Fox & Friends: “It would be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli leader) Benjamin Netanyahu.” He went on to call Obama and then Vice-President Joseph Biden “the enemy.”
The country star tried to further explain the remarks — he was just pointing out how ludicrous the golf paring was, he said — but ESPN dumped him.
Now, the self-proclaimed “World Wide Leader” is bringing Williams Jr. back, and isn’t overly concerned about any blow back.
“I’m sure there’ll be some, but I’m not concerned,” Druley said. ‘It was the right time. We discussed it internally and it was just the right time to bring him back.”
If you’ve forgotten what the song is like, here it is:
This also will, for the time being, divert attention from the continual barrage of news about ESPN layoffs. Huge names such as John Clayton, Andy Katz, Marc Stein, Danny Kanell, Brit McHenry, Ed Werder and Trent Dilfer are just a few of those who have been let go.