ESPN has announced that it parted ways with Hank Williams Jr. after comments he made that involved a “Hitler” analogy earlier this week. The channel has permanently removed the “Monday Night Football” theme Williams performed for the show for over 20 years.
“We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams, Jr,” ESPN said on its website. “We appreciate his contributions over the past years. The success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games and that will continue.”
The decision may sound mutual, but Williams offered another perspective on his website.
“After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision,” he wrote. “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.”
Williams’s Spokesman Kirt Webster said Williams made the decision Wednesday night, while the network said it informed Williams of the move Thursday morning.
Regardless of whose call it was, one of sports’ and entertainment’s most visible partnerships is over. The song had been a “Monday Night Football” staple since 1989 and survived the game’s switch of networks from ABC to cable a few years ago.
It was originally yanked on Monday after Williams’s comments went viral.
The song is based on Williams’ hit “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight.” The lyrics were changed each week to reflect the night’s game.
ESPN will no longer have access to the music or words because Williams owns the publishing rights, the master recordings and the song. Williams, the son of country music icon Hank Williams, is known for his bombastic manner and easy opinions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.