Are you ready for some football? Apparently, Walt Disney-owned ESPN is again.
Six years after dropping Hank Williams Jr.’s adaptation of All My Rowdy Friends as the introduction to Monday Night Football, the sports network is bringing it back, beginning with the first MNF game this fall between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings.
“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 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.”
The biggest question is, why now? How does William factor in? It’s not as if he’s a hot commodity with a younger demo, and there has been prior controversy.
Williams was fired in 2011 after comments he made on FOX News Channel’s “Fox and Friends.” At the time, Williams commented that a game of golf between then president Obama and former House Speaker John Boehner would be like “Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu,” a reference to the prime minister of Isreal. ESPN responded with a statement saying, “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.”
Putting Williams back on comes at a time where some on the right see ESPN as inserting left-wing politics into sports, even though loss of subscribers is largely around changes in media. Maybe the change is due to the normalization of President Donald Trump? Or, is it the distance of time from the controversy lessening risk?