By Rami Abou-Sabe
Six seasons after Hank Williams Jr. was fired by ESPN for controversial comments about then-President Barack Obama, the country star is set to return to the network’s flagship Monday Night Football broadcast.
Williams’ “All My Rowdy Friends” and subsequent “Are you ready for some football?” catchphrase have been Monday Night Football staples since 1989, but ESPN pulled the song midway through the 2011 season following the musician’s politically charged remarks. Speaking to Fox News, Williams compared then-House Speaker John Boehner playing golf with Obama to Hitler playing golf with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Walking back his comments, Williams later issued a statement saying his “analogy was extreme – but it was to make a point. I was simply trying to explain how stupid it seemed to me.”
As for why the network has chosen to bring Williams back at this time? “I think it’s a return to our past in that it’s such an iconic song associated with football,” ESPN senior vice president of events and studio production Stephanie Druley told The Tennessean. “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.”