Finally, Hitler and Benjamin Netanyahu can play golf together once again.
Announced Monday morning (6-5), ESPN, the broadcast rights holder to the NFL’s long-running Monday Night Football franchise, has decided the winds of controversy have died down enough that they’re willing to bring back Hank Williams Jr. to sing the introduction to the weekly event on a regular basis beginning with this upcoming season. Starting with a game on September 11 between the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings, Hank Jr. is back on Monday night.
Hank Williams Jr. sang the iconic opening based off of his song “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” for 22 seasons, starting on Monday Night Football’s 20th Anniversary in 1989 all the way up to 2011 when an off-handed comment by Williams on Fox & Friends landed him in political hot water.
Hank Williams Jr. said that Republican House Leader John Boehner playing golf with Barack Obama was like “Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu.” Though the comment was not meant to be a direct comparison of Hitler and Obama, and instead an illustration of Boehner and Obama’s political differences, it was taken different by some elements of the public, and ESPN felt pressure to remove the country icon from the opening. Benjamin Netanyahu is the Prime Minister of Israel.
“I think it’s a return to our past in that it’s such an iconic song associated with football,” said Stephanie Druley, ESPN’s senior vice president of events and studio production to The Tennessean, who first reported the story. “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.”
ESPN has been forced to lay off scores of on-air personalities and support staff over the last two years as the number of cable subscribers plummets. Some have also cited ESPN’s political correctness for a popular backlash against the sports network.
“A one year deal turned into an American signature for two decades,” Hank Williams Jr. said. “And now we’ll start working on three decades.”