October 03, 2011
Hank Williams Jr., the singer whose various videos for the hit song "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Monday Night" has served as the intro to "Monday Night Football" for 23 seasons, compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler during a Monday morning appearance on "Fox and Friends." The statement led to ESPN pulling his popular intro segment, best known to fans for its "Are you ready for some football?" ending, for Monday night's game between the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
During a discussion on the 2012 presidential race, Williams began discussing Obama's golf outing with Speaker of the House John Boehner. He said it was a political mistake, on par with "Hitler playing golf with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu."
Even if using Hitler in an analogy was something that was socially acceptable, the comparison still doesn't make any sense.
If you watched until the two-minute mark of the clip, you'll notice that Williams doesn't seem particularly coherent throughout the segment. He stumbles over words and declared Obama and Joe Biden to be "the Three Stooges." ("That's only two," host Steve Doocy dryly noted.)
ESPN released a statement expressing disappointment in Williams' comments. The network said the intro will be pulled for one game and any further decision will be based on how contrite the singer-songwriter is in the immediate future.
Stories like this can blow over quickly or burn slowly for a few days before building into a major news story. If it's the former, Williams' intro could be back for next week's game between the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions. If it's the latter, "Monday Night Football" may just have become a little less rowdy.
Update: ESPN skipped over the intro without mentioning the controversy. Instead of leading into the opening bars of Williams' song after a pre-packaged 15-second promo, the network cut to Mike Tirico in the booth and proceeded like nothing had happened.
Also, Williams released a statement late Monday explaining he was "misunderstood." It reads, in part:
"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."
It's an explanation more than an apology. I don't sense much contrition. Whether or not those words are enough for ESPN remains to be seen. (For what it's worth, I think we've partied with our rowdy friends on Monday Night for the last time.) And the next time you want to compare polar opposites, oil and water is always a safe analogy.
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