ESPN Pulls Hank Williams Jr. Open From Monday Night Football Over Remarks About Obama

As James Joyner noted earlier today, Hank Williams Jr. raised more than a few eyebrows when he referred to President Obama and Vice-President Biden as “the enemy,” among other things, on Fox News Channel this morning.

This afternoon, the other shoe dropped:

“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.”

Inevitable, I would think given the fact that ESPN has been pretty quick in the past to disassociate itself from figures who make controversial statements. Whether this means a permanent ban from the network is unclear.

Further details from ESPN.com:

The Hank Williams Jr. song that has opened Monday Night Football for 20 years will not be part of the opening of this week’s Indianapolis-Tampa Bay game after Williams made controversial comments about President Barack Obama.

Williams compared Obama to Adolf Hitler on Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” show Monday morning.

ESPN, in a statement, said: “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.”

Williams, who’s song “All My Rowdy Friends” has been the Monday Night Football theme on both ABC and ESPN since 1991, told “Fox and Friends” that he thought Speaker of the House 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?”

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, Williams said: “Obama. And Biden. Are you kidding? The Three Stooges.”

As has already been remarked, I suspect that Williams may not have been entirely sober this morning.

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. legion says:

    Cue wingnuts crying “First Amendment violation” in 3…. 2….. 1…..

  2. legion,

    Yea I’m waiting for that. It happens like clockwork

  3. Fiona says:

    Words have consequences.

  4. Jay Tea says:

    On his thread on this matter, James speculated that Hank might have been drunk. At 7 or so in the morning.

    I half-watched it. He very well might have been.

  5. Jay Tea says:

    Oh, and Doug? You’ll NEVER make it as a tabloid headline writer.

    CRANKY HANK YANKED, SPANKED

    J.

  6. Racehorse says:

    Another example of political correctness gone to seed. His political views, however convoluted and virtually unintelligible, have no bearing on his relationship to MNF. While I am not a fan of his and have grown rather bored with his MNF opening, ESPN is hypersensitive and way overreacting. I am sure if it had been someone else, say John Madden or Al Michaels, nothing would have ever happened. The same goes for politicians giving opinions about athletes (Limbaugh). It means absolutely nothing and should be taken that way. If someone is offended, get a life.

  7. Trumwill says:

    I don’t see this as being much different than what happened to the Dixie Chicks. I’m a bit more bothered by Hank’s words, though the time and place of the comments were less troublesome.

    If you don’t want to lose your standing with people who disagree with you, don’t say things that are likely to make them upset. If what you say needs to be said, then you accept the consequences. The legal consequences, anyway. The Dixie Chicks got death threats, from what I recall, and there’s never any excuse for that.

  8. Tsar Nicholas says:

    This is good news, given that Hank’s opening was the worst part of MNF even when the games sucked dog.

  9. MM says:

    @Racehorse: When you are projecting something to the widest possible audience, you want to avoid anything overly controversial. ESPN and the NFL aren’t interested in alienating large portions of their viewers. Nakedly partisan quotes are going to alienate half your viewers. Drunkenly comparing Obama to Hitler is probably worse than Typical firebreathing partisanship.

  10. An Interested Party says:

    Another example of political correctness gone to seed. His political views, however convoluted and virtually unintelligible, have no bearing on his relationship to MNF.

    I wonder if Racehorse would feel the same way if some celebrity made statements trashing the South and the people of the South and was punished simply for making those statements…

  11. superdestroyer says:

    @Jay Tea:

    Deadspin had the best headline:

    All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Kristallnacht

  12. Scott O. says:

    Next up, Tea Partiers urge Williams to run for president.

  13. Jack Moss says:

    So will ESPN play fair and suspend the hosts on it’s ESPN affliate suggesting the rape and murder of Sarah Palin?

    http://macsmind.com/wordpress/2011/10/03/abcespns-hypocrisy-on-pulling-hank-williams-from-monday-night-football/

  14. Trumwill says:

    @Jack Moss: Dude, it took no fewer four pages before I got to a site that showed what was said and by whom. There’s a 9-minute media clip that I don’t care to listen to, so I’ll need to see where “hosts on it’s ESPN affilliate” actually say anything about rape.

    The last page involves quotes from Mike Tyson* and references to Palin having sex with black men as opposed to rape**.

    * – Why not name Tyson? He’s more well known for being Mike Freaking Tyson than he would be as a host. Is he a host or what he a guest?

    ** – Did one of the hosts make a statement about rape? Otherwise, a quote, please? Rather than a link to a link to a link to a quote from someone who isn’t a host saying something that isn’t transparently about rape?

  15. Brainster says:

    ESPN also took Kenny Mayne off the air for stating he almost intentionally rammed a car with a Sarah Palin bumper sticker. Oh, wait, no they didn’t.

  16. An Interested Party says:

    ESPN also took Kenny Mayne off the air for stating he almost intentionally rammed a car with a Sarah Palin bumper sticker.

    Yes, because that is exactly the same thing as comparing the President to Hitler…

  17. Hey Norm says:

    ESPN has no control over the personnel at it’s affiliates. If it was truly egregious they could exert pressure…but it would have to be pretty bad.
    As for Kenny Mayne…he is a satirist…a comedian.
    Hank Williams on the other hand is an allegedly drunk redneck…the perfect guest for the idiots who host, and bother to watch, Fox and Friends.

  18. The Adversary says:

    @An Interested Party:

    You’re right. Admitting that you have urges to commit violence against a person (and even innocent persons – you don’t know who was in the car) is far worse than employing a cliche.

    By the way, all you left wing loons, he didn’t compare Obama to Hitler. The “it” he compared was a meeting between two diametrically opposed leaders. He didn’t say, “Obama is just like Hitler”. You people should know the difference because that’s exactly what you said about Bush.

  19. The Adversary says:

    @MM:

    Really, how many liberals do you think watch football? All of its principles are anathema to liberalism. Jobs go to the best people, even competition, rules that don’t change on the fly, losers and winners, and no quotas for women.

    I think NBC and the NFL could have the intro sung by Rush Limbaugh and they wouldn’t lose more than a handful of viewers.

  20. Boyd says:

    I’ve long thought it odd that the network dedicated solely to sports has the worst package, by far, around their one football game every week. The pre-game is execrable. The play-by-play and color commentary isn’t up to the standards necessary for a high school football game. At least they don’t make us suffer with Theismann anymore.

    So now they pull the trademark opening for MNF. I can’t think of a reason to not mute my TV during MNF now.

    Or maybe I can just watch the intro for Sunday Night Football. Much, much more pleasant anyway.

  21. @The Adversary:

    Based on superbowl viewership, the market for TV football actually seems more liberal leaning:

    http://www.esri.com/news/arcwatch/0111/super-bowl.html

    It’s most popular in the northeast and least popular in the south.

  22. @Boyd:

    This is because all of ESPN’s best commentators are assigned to college football.

  23. Boyd says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Your comment reminds me that I should have qualified that as ESPN’s one NFL football game every week. I’m not a broad consumer of college football, focusing on a single team, so I sometimes lose sight of the fact that there’s more football on TV than the NFL.

    But on the more important point…how about that SNF intro? Last year’s was better, IMHO, although I’m not gonna complain about the current one.

  24. @Boyd:

    I’m the complete opposite. I love college football and don’t really pay attention to the pro game until after January 1.

  25. Franklin says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Gentlemen, you can *both* be right, I enjoy college and pro football.

  26. Boyd says:

    @Franklin: I’m pretty sure neither one of us was claiming the other was wrong. We were simply comparing opinions.

    Now, if we start specifying teams, sparks would undoubtedly fly.

  27. Hey Norm says:

    The Adversary is full of sh**. I’m just sayin’…

  28. @Boyd:

    Now, if we start specifying teams, sparks would undoubtedly fly.

    Not really, my favorite team is Penn State, and I have to grudingly cede we suck this year.

  29. Trumwill says:

    @The Adversary: NFL viewership leans only slightly to the right. As for it being anathema to liberal values, the NFL has really stringent revenue sharing. While this could be viewed as communism, maybe you’re right and it should be considered a conservative enterprise: An oligopoly of teams enriching itself through anti-competitive practices (see USFL, the paucity of teams).

    (That’s a partisan cheap-shot, but TA’s whole sub-topic lends itself to such.)

  30. EddieInCA says:

    @The Adversary:

    Really, how many liberals do you think watch football? All of its principles are anathema to liberalism. Jobs go to the best people, even competition, rules that don’t change on the fly, losers and winners, and no quotas for women.

    You’re wrong.

    NFL Football is socialist.

    1. They have Revenue-sharing (i.e. distribution of wealth). The richest teams split their TV Revenue with every other team.

    2. They rotate stadiums where the Super Bowl is played. They just don’t do it every year in Dallas Stadium, the best, biggest, and most superior stadium in the nation. In other words, they share the wealth… again.

    3. They have a hard salary cap per team. Which means they control salaries, and players are limited to what they can earn.

    4. Teams are given preference (in the draft) if they’re a lower performing team, so the better college players are spread to teams at the bottom of the standings (again, redistribution of wealth).

    And I can go on… but you should get the point.

    But, maybe not.

  31. Racehorse says:

    @Boyd: @Boyd: I thought that Theisman was still on there until someone told me it was Gruden. Really a boring show compared to Madden – Michaels of the past. I am trying the tv – radio deal, but sometimes I can’t find a radio station listen to while watching the tv.

  32. samwide says:

    @The Adversary:

    Really, how many liberals do you think watch football? All of its principles are anathema to liberalism. Jobs go to the best people, even competition, rules that don’t change on the fly, losers and winners, and no quotas for women.

    Maybe the most rent-seeking sport in America, doofus. But, hey, that is the face of modern capitalism in America, right? (Just google ‘football stadiums taxpayer’) Nitwit.

  33. Neil Hudelson says:

    Guys, just admit it, The Adversary is right.

    samwide, I sat with you at our weekly Polo outing last Tuesday!

    Trumwill, you are honestly telling me that yacht racing isn’t the chosen sport of all who fall to the left of center?

    Stormy Dragon, you and I are both on the board of our secret Marxist soccer league!

  34. Neil Hudelson says:

    Crap! I wasn’t supposed to talk about that last one. We need a longer edit time, James!