After originally pulling the "Monday Night Football" theme by country singer Hank Williams from last Monday's telecast due to some politically incendiary comments, ESPN has decided to end its relationship with Williams for good. The statement was released Thursday morning:
"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."
Williams has his own statement about the breakup — or, at least, it's a statement on his own website:
"After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision. By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE. It's been a great run." -- Hank Williams Jr
Interesting point in that statement -- when Williams refers to "his song," does that mean that ESPN no longer has the right to use the "Are you ready for some footbaaaaaaaaall?" theme without Williams singing it? Who owns that sucker? Where does the publishing revert? Could ESPN put itself in a position to have to pay Williams for the right to have others sing the song he wrote, or is it time to scrap it and start over?
The fracas started when Williams made comments about President Barack Obama during a Monday appearance on the Fox News show, "Fox & Friends." Without any prompting, Williams said that Obama's golf outing with House Speaker John Boehner would be "like Hitler playing golf with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.''
Williams then clarified his comments by saying, ''They're the enemy,'' and that by ''they,'' he meant Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Williams FURTHER clarified his comments on his website on Tuesday:
''The thought of the leaders of both parties jukin and high fiven on a golf course, while so many families are struggling to get by simply made me boil over and make a dumb statement. I am very sorry if it offended anyone.''
On Monday, ESPN pulled the theme song, which has been associated with "Monday Night Football" since 1989. It was unknown at that time whether Williams' theme and likeness would be used again, but it's now a clean break — the Worldwide Leader has decided to move on.
Or, depending on who you believe, Hank jumped before he was pushed, taking his rowdy friends with him.
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