UPDATED: Though it was unclear whether ESPN was only removing Hank Williams Jr. from one week of “Monday Night Football,” the cable channel released a statement to the media Thursday morning confirming ESPN has cut ties with the singer permanently.
“We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams, Jr. We appreciate his contributions over the past years. The success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games and that will continue,” the network said.
ORIGINAL POST: Hours after country singer Hank Williams Jr. went on a morning talk show and likened President Obama to Adolf Hitler, ESPN announced it had dropped the singer as the opening of this week’s “Monday Night Football.”
“While Hank Williams Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize he is closely linked to our company through the opening to ‘Monday Night Football,’” the Disney-owned sports cable network said Monday afternoon in its statement.
“We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result have decided to pull the open from tonight’s telecast.”
For more than two decades, Williams has been the voice of the “Monday Night Football” theme song.
Williams on Monday morning had compared the recent “golf summit” between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner as “one of the biggest political mistakes ever.” (See it here.)
“It would be like Hitler playing golf with [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu,” Williams said on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends.”
Surprised show host Brian Kilmeade asked Williams to explain, and the singer did: “They’re the enemy... Obama! And Biden! Are you kidding? The Three Stooges.”
Ironically, “F&F” hosts deftly turned the talk to the country singer’s more than two decades as the voice of the “Monday Night Football” theme song, of which, Williams said affably, “a one-year deal that keeps on going sure is fun!”
UPDATE: Williams posted a statement on his Web site Monday night, 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.”
Read the rest of his statement here.
Here’s video of his comments: