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One traditional element of the “Monday Night Football” broadcast on ESPN was missing from Monday night’s Indianapolis-Tampa Bay game: Hank Williams Jr.’s musical opening that asks, “Are you ready for some football?”
ESPN said it would not run this week because of comments by Williams on Monday on the Fox News Channel that compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler.
Williams said that Obama’s recent golf game against House Speaker John Boehner would be like “Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu,” referring to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister. “Not hardly.”
When Brian Kilmeade, one of the hosts of “Fox and Friends,” said he did not understand the comparison, Williams said: “I’m glad you don’t, brother, because a lot of people do. They’re the enemy: Obama! And Biden! Are you kidding? The Three Stooges.”
In its statement, ESPN said: “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.”
Mr. Williams responded with a statement of his own.
“My analogy was extreme – but it was to make a point,” the statement said. “I was simply trying to explain how stupid it seemed to me – how ludicrous that pairing was. They’re polar opposites and it made no sense. They don’t see eye-to-eye and never will. I have always respected the office of the President.”
ESPN is evaluating whether the suspension should be longer.