Hank Williams Jr. No Longer Too Racist for the NFL or ESPN
For more than twenty years, Hank Williams Jr.’s “All My Rowdy Friends” was the theme song for the NFL’s Monday Night Football broadcast. Then, in 2011, Williams was fired after comparing Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler, as he said the then-president playing golf with then-House Speaker John Boehner was like “Hitler playing golf with [Israeli prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.” In a series of statements, he called his comparison “extreme,” while also accusing ESPN of violating his First Amendment right to compare the 44th president of the United States to the architect of the Holocaust.
Now, ESPN has deemed that with Donald Trump as president, Williams Jr. is no longer too racist for some football. Williams Jr. will return for the upcoming NFL season with a new version of “All My Rowdy Friends,” as Rolling Stone reports.
“I think it’s a return to our past in that it’s such an iconic song associated with football,” ESPN senior vice president Stephanie Druley told The Tennessean. “It was the original. It belongs to Monday Night Football. 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.”
“I never said, ‘Are you ready for some football’ on stage one time the last five or six years, but I will now,” Williams Jr. added. “I’m feeling at home and it’s a real good thing … It’s kind of like the Nashville Predators playing for the Stanley Cup, it’s like ‘Wow.’”
Asked about whether there will be any sour feelings over Williams Jr.’s return, given the nature of his departure, Druley said: “I’m sure there’ll be some, but I’m not concerned. It was the right time. We discussed it internally and it was just the right time to bring him back.”
The new song will debut for the September 11 broadcast of Monday Night Football, between the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings.