ESPN drops Hank Williams Jr.
Hank Williams Jr., a rowdy musical presence on "Monday Night Football" for two decades, no longer will be a part of the program in the wake of his controversial comments about President Barack Obama on Fox News Channel Monday.
ESPN, which pulled his pregame song from this week's telecast, released a statement Thursday that said, "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."
ESPN called Wiliams Thursday morning to inform him of the decision. But on his website, Williams wrote it was his decision to end his association with the network.
"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."
On "Fox & Friends" Monday, Williams compared Obama and House Speaker John Boehner playing a round of golf together to "Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu [the Israeli prime minister]."
When a host asked Williams to clarify, he said, "They're the enemy. Obama. And Biden. Are you kidding? The Three Stooges."
Williams, 62, later issued a statement admitting his reference to Hitler was "extreme" and said he respects the office of the President.
On ABC and later ESPN, Williams had sung a version of his 1984 hit, "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" to include the line, "Are you ready for some football?"
The football will go on, but without him.